Thursday, April 19, 2007

An Election Campaign of Fear - Again

Prime Minister John Howard has won all his elections partly on on voter fear. There has been little positive policy from him during the election campaigns, other than assertions about how good he / "his government" is.

  • 1996: fear of Keatingomics of the Labor Party, and fear of (then Prime Minister) Paul Keating's arrogance.
  • 2000: fear of refugees / "boat people" and the horror of "children overboard" (later shown to be a lie, but politically useful during the election campaign
  • 2004: fear of (then Labor leader) Mark Latham.

In 2007, there is still voter fear to be exploited. However, this time there are likely to be opposing fears. John Howard will repeatedly tell voters to fear the unions and a Labor Government, and how they will "will reverse one of the biggest economic reforms this country has seen". Specifically we voters are being told to be afraid of unfair dismissal laws and the removal of WorkChoices / AWA's (individual work contracts).

But Mr Howard will have his own demons. There are and will be strong campaigns from unions and the Labor Party telling us voters to be afraid of John Howard's WorkChoices. This was a policy Mr Howard did NOT tell voters about before the last election. Mr Howard and his Ministers already know that WorkChoices is very unpopular with those who have been forced onto them. He, and his Workplace Relations Minister(s) have been most reluctant to release full statistics about the effects, and have been only selectively quoting "statistics" about how wonderful they all are.

Furthermore, Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd, in an address to a packed Press Club outlined his plans for IR in Australia, and those plans included things the unions did not want: secret ballots before strikes, no strikes during the course of an agreement; no pay during strikes. By so doing he has publicly stated that he is not, and will not, be governed by union demands. Much depends on how the Australian public perceives his plans.

It could be that Mr Howard has much to fear.

The Analyst