Amidst the industrial carnage wrought by Qantas CEO Alan Joyce last week was a brief glimpse of what survival for the Gillard Government might look like.
It would start with a corporate leader arrogantly putting his commercial interests ahead of the national interest, to the cheers of his fellow CEOs.
It would move into a debate about whether loyal Australian workers had a right to expect any sort of say in the way their workplace was run; or whether they should be forced to cop whatever the latest management team cooked up.
It would give voice to the federal front bench, for once united on a matter of principle they truly believed in, providing a platform to speak up for the values of their movement.
And it would end with the Federal Opposition, stripped of any pretence of policy, in a tangle over the WorkChoices bogey, simply barracking for the big end of town because that is what they are conditioned to do.
First polling back since the Qantas lock-out and grounding show that Labor is picking up solid ground on the Coalition.
|Election 21 Aug 10||4 weeks ago||2 weeks ago||Last week||This week|
This equates to a two-party preferred vote of 54-46; although because Essential bases its polling on a two-week rolling average, the past week was actually sitting at 53-47 2PP. We’ll have to see if that stands firm for another week.
What we do know is that the general public and Labor voters in particular had a very clear view of the events of the past seven days.
Q. Do you approve or disapprove of Qantas’s decision to ground all planes last weekend?
|Total||Vote Labor||Vote Lib/Nat||Vote Greens|
Significantly, the handling of the dispute has rallied the Labor support base with two thirds disapproving of the Qantas play and, in a separate question blaming Qantas management over workers for the debacle.
That said, the improvements in Labor’s fortunes are not simply linked to the way they handled the dispute. In fact, most people spread the blame around to everyone including the Labor Government. The only institution given a pass mark was Labor’s industrial umpire Fair Work Australia.
Q. Did you approve or disapprove of the performance of each of the following in the Qantas dispute?
|Total approve||Total disapprove||Don’t know|
|Julia Gillard and the Labor Government||30%||49%||20%|
|Tony Abbott and the Opposition||27%||45%||28%|
|The Qantas CEO Alan Joyce||28%||58%||14%|
|Fair Work Australia||55%||21%||23%|
But this is an important anchor point. If Fair Work Australia is seen to have worked, then Labor’s industrial policies must be working too. And as the business community and elements of Abbott’s front bench clamour for another round of industrial relations reform, they are on shaky ground.
The bigger windfall for Labor is one of political agenda management; for once the political issue of the week was on workers’ rights and corporate excess, issues that they have struggled to stake out in a sustained way.
In simple terms, when these are the issues that dominate national debate Labor is playing on its home field; in contrast when the issue is asylum seekers or taxes, the Coalition is on its turf.
Incumbency has always been assumed to give the Government the advantage in determining the issues of the day. Howard was a master at it, but in the climate of minority Government and a hostile media Labor has floundered.
It’s probably just a moment of polling sunshine, but the past week shows that when the stars align, there is still hope for the ALP.
If only there were more people like Alan Joyce.
- Peter Lewis | Director, EMC
Subscribe to the Unspun
- 6.30 with George Negus
- Canberra Report
- EMC International
- Essential Report
- Keep our Cops
- Network Ten
- Sky News
- social media
- The Drum
- The Punch
- Web and Design