The end of WorkChoices

Today the Coalition’s Shadow Cabinet officially declared WorkChoices dead. With coincidental but good timing, my Policy article on the ugly WorkChoices polling went online this morning.

Polling published since I wrote the article confirms the findings I report. In the Weekend Australian last Saturday, George Megalogenis cited surveys by left-leaning pollster Essential Media Communications that anti-WorkChoices opinion was stable across 2006 and 2007. The huge sums of money spent by both sides on WorkChoices propaganda had little if any net effect on the basic yes/no question.

My reading is that the anti-WorkChoices campaign was able to tap into set public opinion that labour market institutions should protect low-paid and vulnerable workers, and so it all it had to do was convince people that WorkChoices was contrary to their beliefs. That was accomplished by the time polling started in mid-2005.

What we still can’t be entirely clear on is whether the Coalition’s backdown on AWAs and the introduction of a ‘fairness’ test – a major watering down of WorkChoices on a key aspect of public concern, rather than just an advertising campaign – made any difference to the basic yes/no question (Megalogenis’s article doesn’t say when in 2007 Essential Media polled).
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