The massive advertising blitz by the ACTU and its members is having an effect. Both Howard's personal approval and that of his government, has fallen in light of his planned changes to the industrial system now that the coalition has the balance of power in the Upper House.
There has been a great deal of snivelling into personally monogrammed handkerchiefs since this appeal to our blue collared side. One gnash of indentured mouths was at the 'fact' that the unions were making such political capital of this; which is rich coming from a party that lied about children overboard in one campaign and, when that was no longer available, fell back on the 'interest rate scare'. Talk about double standards.
Would his side ever fail to seize on insecurities in the population? Not on the evidence.
So what remains is to cut across bad spin doctoring BS and get to the crucial question which is 'Will we be better off or worse off?' but we can't ask the Minister Kevin Andrews that so how can we be reassured - not just verbally as in Tony Abbott's own 'never ever' lie - but ironclad, written into the statute books, no wuckas mate, that we will not possibly be any worse off under this change and that we will not slide into the US model of an underclass surviving on tips and handouts because their hourly rate is so low.
Well one excellent way is to address each point as it is presented in the advertisements - could someone be thrown onto a casual work contract after having toiled faithfully for the company? could a mother be forced into work when it is not convenient or else face the sack? could this mean that all workers might find themselves negotiated into less weeks holiday each year?
These are issues that run to the heart of our concerns, regardless of our loose affiliations or our plateauing platitudes. Suddenly we sit up in the sofa and say "Hey wait a fuckin' minute!" because we've got kids entering the workforce for the first time out of school and mums returning to a few hours work and family with disabilities who are good workers but open to exploitation. We want the maximum safeguards because we know that not all bosses are benevolent and if there's a screw you clause
some will write it right into that workplace contract in a heartbeat.
We might know this because we are business owners or managers ourselves. But it makes no difference how you come to see the danger, as long as you're alert to it.
While the Daily Demograph, er, Telegraph had little to offer other than a simplistic, not to say dead wrong, bitch from Piers about the 'greatest concert of all time' being a waste of time the Sydney Morning Herald soon had articles headed 'Workers will be on their knees for fair pay' and 'Tough times ahead as workplace reforms miss the boat'.
This is, all rank philosophies aside, a populist government and we have curbed their enthusiasm for fucked legislation in the past. Whether not having a conduit for the widespread disaffectation represented among the majority of senators will mean that they will tough it out is another matter. It would be a very hard policy to back away from now that Howard has ridden it like an ass.
They've had to introduce past unpopular moves in increments - the sale of Telstra, the introduction of a GST - and so the removal of safeguards in workplace negotiation may also be introduced in installments. But this by no means satisfies any fear that their intentions may be misplaced at best, malevolent at worst.
Not only does the SMH warn of the dangers (they've had no shortage of critical articles on the NSW Labor government either) it also publishes letters from real wiseacres. Here's a recent favourite:
Called to account
Will the Japanese embassy please provide a list of articles and publications in scientific journals of discoveries resulting from studies made on dead whales?
Malcolm Hilbery Woonona
I just love it, supreme sarcasm.