Today Crikey points out the seemingly obvious fact that Howard's WorkChoices policies are now "political poison". It details the conclusions of a report by Professor David Peetz of Griffith University:
The report emphasises that Australia currently has both low unemployment and many labour market shortages. Nevertheless, the wages share of GDP is "at a nearly 35 year low"...The warning is most certainly going to be ignored, unless Howard is dumped as leader.
No doubt Peetz’s study will be met with the same ad hominem attacks previously dished out with reference to his research from Costello and Hockey. But polling during the NSW election found that 30% of respondents knew someone personally whose conditions and/or wages had suffered through WorkChoices.
If the Federal Government is inclined to dismiss the importance of industrial relations on the NSW election, they’re free to do so, but there’s no doubt that they will be held to account one way or another in the federal election.
The economy is really the only "trump card" Howard has left to play, and yet the ipact of his disgraceful WorkChoices policy totally repudiates whatever other economic successes he might point to. This sort of policy is driving Australia towards a divided, class-ridden society.
Do we want to live in a country where Sydney's mega-rich cruise down New South Head Road to their Vaucluse mansions, past homeless people living in cardboard boxes? Is that where we want to go? I think not. But that is where Howard's increasingly elitist society is headed.
Howard cannot back down on this cornerstone legislation without destroying his whole "man of steel" facade. So it looks like the outlines of the federal election later this year have now been clearly defined:
Mr Howard has told Sky News he expects the fight over IR to be tough, but says rolling back the changes is not an option.Oh dear. Is that really the best he can do? How much of my hard-earned taxpayer money is he prepared to throw at convincing people of such nonsense? How much will his Liberal Party colleagues put up with?
"It will send a signal to the world that we are tired of economic reform," he said.
Mr Howard says Labor's campaign is about the unions wanting more control of the workplace.
A lot, it seems. Here's Howard Government frontbencher Andrew Robb:
"We've got the lowest level of industrial dispute in history."Well, duh.
Personally, I took a former employer to court four or five years ago and won an unfair dismissal claim. It was unpleasant and financially not worth the effort, but I won, and I thought that was important. Today I would not bother: the laws are stacked against you.
Where are your children and your grandchildren going to stand on all this?