Rudd steps around a hole

Monday, 28 May 2007 

Despite the latest Newspoll showing no negative impact from the Rein affair, it did open up a clear problem for Labor. It exposes the hollowness of Labor’s opposition to AWAs and its IR policy. Labor is not arguing for a return to collective bargaining and has no problem with individual contracts whether in Rein’s business or any other. While Gillard is arguing for the safety net of awards in individual contracts, without collective bargaining, the terms of those awards will end up being as much in the favour of employers as AWAs.

Labor cannot turn back the clock on the terminal decline of the unions that were historically at the core of its project for the last century. This has been Labor’s political problem since Keating began dismantling collective bargaining over a decade ago. The lack of substance in Labor’s current opposition to Workchoices would have emerged anyway in the accommodation it was reaching with the mining sector. The Rein episode has merely brought out the hollowness more quickly, and in a more uncontrolled fashion.

Fortunately for Labor, the international agenda is filling in the hole. While the IR row was a sham debate, there is a real difference in the ability of the coalition and Labor to respond to the change in international politics from the War on Terror to global warming. As seen by the outrage over the ABC’s decision to show a program putting an opposing view on global warming, it is clearly the new orthodoxy, both internationally and moving that way domestically. As will be seen by Howard’s response this week to the findings of his climate change taskforce, the coalition will be unable to convincingly respond.

Posted by The Piping Shrike on Monday, 28 May 2007.

Filed under State of the parties

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