Damage control

One more round of Campaign Update’s before I take the plunge tomorrow (by which I mean today, it being 3am) and post my predictions:

Lane Cove (Liberal 2.8%), South Coast (Liberal 1.6%) and Epping (Liberal 7.6%): Despite last week’s public transport nightmare, pundits are increasingly turning their attention to seats held by the Liberals. Anne Davies and Andrew Clennell of the Sydney Morning Herald report that "a Young Liberals ‘flying squad’ has been sent in to help the seat of Lane Cove, as the party moves into damage control to protect its marginals in the final week of the election". Liberal member Anthony Roberts is said to have been "hurt by a report he was asked to leave the Longueville Hotel following an incident", which he denies. The report also says the Liberals are now concerned about South Coast, having rubbished confident talk from the Labor camp earlier in the campaign. The two parties have found a new source of disagreement further up the pendulum, in Epping; Labor reportedly believes vote-splitting between Liberal candidate Greg Smith and independent Martin Levine might deliver them an upset, which is "dismissed as fanciful by Liberal campaigners". Also mentioned are Terrigal and Goulburn; Simon Benson of the Daily Telegraph concurs that "MPs are talking about possible losses in Terrigal, South Coast and Goulburn".

Sydney (Independent 15.0% versus Labor): Clover Moore continues to get a hard time from Imre Salusinszky in The Australian. On March 5, Salusinszky reported Moore had potentially breached parliamentary guidelines by using her electorate allowance to "spruik achievements from her other role as Lord Mayor of Sydney". This time she faces "a former campaign insider accusing her of hypocrisy over donations from property developers". In other inner-city news, an assault complaint brought by independent Malcolm Duncan against glamorous Liberal action man Edward Mandla has been given way too much media coverage. Writing in the gay and lesbian magazine SX, Sydney blogger Sam Butler describes the avowedly gay-friendly Mandla as "powerfully built, with exfoliated and moisturised skin, distinguished grey hairs and a handsome smile … an ideal ‘Daddy’ fantasy for many of the otherwise politically-ambivalent twinks residing in and around Stonewall". One wonders if the Stonewall twinks’ ardour for older authority figures extends to Fred Nile; as with all other Liberal candidates, Mandla’s how-to-vote card suggests voters might care to give him their second preference in the upper house.

Newcastle (Labor 15.4%): Morris Iemma was up against it yesterday when he visisted Newcastle to shore up the floundering campaign of his personally chosen star candidate, Jodi McKay. As well as being ambushed by ferals, the Premier had to face the embarrassment of McKay’s inability to identify the Premier of Queensland. The Poll Bludger had previously felt that McKay had a better chance than was commonly believed, due to the split in the independent vote and the likelihood that most of these votes would exhaust. This theory is now harder to sustain, presenting the dilemma of who to back out of lord mayor John Tate and Labor-turned-independent sitting member Bryce Gaudry.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

34 comments on “Damage control”

  1. This $300Million dollar Dilemma announcement for a sports stadium is designed to shore up not only Newcastle, but many surrounding seats.

    I stand by my prediction of at least 2 and possibly 4 independents being elected in the Hunter.

  2. I’ll be amazed if Labor even comes close to winning Epping. However, it’s true that Greg Smith and a lot of Young Liberals have been campaigning furiously in this area for the past few weeks.
    In other news: today’s SMH reports that Kevin Rudd will be joining Iemma at a big campaign rally in Penrith later this week.

  3. The incompetence of the state government and the oposition are just embarasing. There is an article in the telegraph today that says that we have by far the worst train service in the whole world, we have the highest cost per passenger, highest delays, lowest driver utilisation (working 3hr in 7hr shift, and they wonder why cost is so high), highest cost per station, worst reliability level.

    and our estimed transport minister came up with the following quote

    Transport Minister John Watkins said last night he had not been shown the report.
    “This report by an overseas operator is clearly flawed and that is why it has not been presented to the Government,” he said.

    He has not seen the report, so it has to be flawed. such enlightenment

    And our state opposition leader does not even have a TRANSPORT PLAN

    this state election should be renamed Dumb and Debher

  4. # The Speaker Says: Hi All. Like Mumble, I’m an election gambler. Your NSW ALP seat guesses would be most welcome. I think 50, what do you think ?

    Send your answers to “The Monthly”, they are offering $1,000 for predicting the results in all seats correctly.

  5. There is some money to be made or lost on Centrebet if you can predict the numbers of Labor, Coalition, or Independent seats.

    The odds given for these outcomes have proven to be the most accurate predictor for the actual result in previous elections.

    I don’t encourage or discourage gambling, but have a look at the “New South Wales State Election” odds for many key seats:


  6. If the liberals were to drop 3-4 seats net and the nationals
    to win a couple extra from independents or labor
    then it is possible there are more national than liberal seats held
    and Mr Stoner would be opposition leader. This is the same situation as
    applies in Queensland now
    Such a situation is very unlikely and suggests alp votes similar to
    1978 & 1981.

  7. re Public Transport
    Listening to passengers on public transport over the past couple of weeks (on both trains and buses) has been interesting. Most seem resigned to Labor, with one saying “I hate Bob Carr, all rhetoric and no action, but Iemma has at least tried so I’ll vote for him”, and others discussing Work Choices. My sense is that alot of the electorate has adopted a wait and see attitude to Iemma and will give their final verdict at the 2011 election.

    As to non-marginal fairly-safe ALP seats (like Coogee), the Libs are campaigning there but only barely. There was no money for the Coogee campaign at all, suggesting that the whole focus of the Lib campaign has been marginals and defense of existing seats – not unexpected, but hardly inspiring for many party workers in safe seats and it gives a sense to the campaign of not wanting to win.

    So my overall sense is that the Lib vote will remain relatively static in safe ALP seats, will rise in safe Lib/Nat seats, and only be up by a couple of percentage points in most marginals. I would have thought that only 2-3 seats might go ALP to Lib, but some others might go ALP/Lib to Independent. That’s my incredibly cautiousand predictable prediction!!

  8. Yes, I think StewartJ has probably been eavesdropping on the political pulse of the State in his train and bus excursions. The IR stuff is certainly biting, which is why the government is running so hard on it. I think the Rudd honeymoon has also helped Labor. I think it will be a miracle now if the Libs improve their position from the last election.

  9. Stewart J, I am anything but incredibly cautious but I think your prediction for Saturday night is just about spot-on.

    I reckon the only possible Liberal gains off the ALP are Camden, Tweed and Wollondilly. All two close to call but I reckon they will fall short in two of the three. I think they have more cause for confidence in Manly and Pittwater – I reckon the Liberals will win back both of these.

    Those hoping for a surge of independents around Newcastle are going to be disappointed – I think the ALP will hold everything. Exhausted votes will be the problem for the Indies.

    Nats will fail to win back Dubbo and Tamworth and as for the other former Nat seats, that goes without saying. However, they should be able to hold on in Murray-Darling.

    So the bottom line is Liberals to gain two or three with two of these coming at the expense of North Shore independents. Absolute anti-climax if I am correct…no wonder Nine is not covering the election on Saturday night! (although I would be watching Kerry, Quentin and Antony in any event, not least of all to see if Quentin Dempster behaves as outrageously as he did on Stateline last Friday!!)

    Incidentally, for the Ed St Johns of this world who are (still?) predicting a very different outcome, take a look at the Centrebet odds…as a regular election gambler, let me tell you that it is remarkable how often they get it right.

  10. I think there is some misrepresentation of my views,I restate:

    1: Debnam hasnt worked in the electorate. Media wrote him off after Debus November and the public has correspondingly been underwhelmed

    2. There is a pent up Liberal vote out there. For example I am not sure how people on this blog actually converse with a tradesperson but these people have been royally done over by the property industry collapse in this state (construction levels are now at 1958/59 figures according to last weeks AFR). These people are not fans of the State Government, mightn’t be keen on Debnam but they hate Labor now.

    3. WorkChoices big scare campaign but I am just not sure it is an issue. Yes the usual suspects are opposed but this is going to be a vote changer like – Full fees for universities, 50% capital gains tax cuts, subsidising private medical insurance and by extension denying public insurance where going to be vote changes. We are a more selfish society than in 1983 and when all is send and done people vote on self-interest. Ultimately the real answer on this will come in the Federal poll but no doubt when Iemma wins the usual suspects will come out and say it is also a massive rejection of the Federal Government.

    4. A lot of people have done well economically in the last decade. People who feel good re-elect incumbents.

    5. I never said Debnam would win, I said there would be a swing on my estimate about 6-7%. Having said that I think if the Libs cant win Miranda and one or two of the outer western seats (Camden etc) they are in serious trouble. My prediction my think of some weeks ago was 6 seats to the coalition (4 at the bottom).

    6. If there is a better poll on Thirsday or Friday for the Libs expert predictions will no doubt be adjusted accordingly.

  11. Edward, your list of “vote-changing” issues is an interesting one. I’m not convinced that full-fees for uni, capital gains tax cuts or private health insurance issues are going to make people vote for one side or the other. I know you dismiss WorkChoices as an issue, but I think it’s biting more than you think. THis has been backed up by focus group polling as featured on Crikey last week. The thing with WorkChoices is that it hits home to people who don’t otherwise give a fig about politics. Even if a particular person’s employment conditions haven’t changed much, the evidence seems to suggest that they know someone who has been done over. Why do you think Iemma is running so hard on this? And why has Debnam soft-shoed on it? Both parties are doing pretty extensive polling and focus group interviews, so we can assume that that both sides are getting the message that WorkChoices is pretty unpopular.

    I mean, bloody hell, how else is this government going to get re-elected so comfortably?

  12. I think the problem the Libs had/have is that they ran away from the proverbial vomit in the corner of the room and tried to ignore it on both WorkChoices and the public service cuts.

    Debnam would have been better to say something along the lines of we need to take difficult decisions to revive the State but I will be up front and honest about it and acknowledge its going to cause some people some pain and also on the public service cuts make more of a point of Costa calling for the same thing.

    He kind of said I will do this but it is going to be pain free for you and didnt take the time to explain his policies. That definition gap is what the ALP drove a truck through.

    Sure the ALP has demonised WorkChoices and I can accept its something which people will be vaguely concerned about but the best analogy I can think of is fast food. We all know its bad and we all probably would say on a generic level its bad but it doesnt stop people specifically indulging in hamburgers, pizza etc. With WorkChoices we think its bad but we dont have a specific gripe that personally affects us, ie the bloke down the road he may have been done over by his boss but me I get on well with mine.

    Also on another note dont underestimate the power of Rodent nostalgia come election time assuming memory kicks in about 8 years of age anyone 21 and under has only known the Rodent.

  13. I think a better analogy would be to smoking … I’d like to give up work choices it didn’t kill me today … but it killed my sister / daughter / friend … it might get me tomorrow….

    Workchoices was politically foolish and at the very very very has a tiny marignal positive economic effect.

  14. I’ve never been a big believer in the argument that federal politics influences state elections.

    The public is quite politically savvy nowadays, and will not automatically punish/reward a party at one level by voting for their counterparts at another level. NSW elected Bob Carr when the Keating Government was overwhelmingly on the nose. State ALP governments have been easily elected by the same people who vote for Howard. Voters shop around; you only need to look at the disparity in the margins of federal seats and their state counterparts (up to 20%+ in some cases)

    Labor’s been just as guilty as the Libs in the past (eg Goss blaming Keating for 1995). I think this is just a cop-out by the state parties, and prevents them from accepting their own failures. The Liberals have been out of office in NSW for 12 years, and probably now 16. Surely this isn’t all Canberra’s fault??

  15. The problem that the state liberals have is that their talent pool is so shallow .. if you are an ambitious conservative why would you go to state politics where there is little glory and (especially now) compared to federal politics little power – why would you bother? especially considering the backgrounds of most conservative politicans who can earn a lot more and probably wield more power in the private sector. The talent goes to Canberra for obvious reasons leaving a vicious circle. It would be interesting to speculate on whether Ted Baillieu would have gone into state parliament if he had known he would spending years in opposition rather than the fast track to a ministry that he would have expected from jeff in 1999?

  16. All work choices is, is a deregulation of the work market.

    It continues the work done by the labor party in the 1980s to deregulate the financial market and export and import market. These policies forced Australia industries to become more competitive, which along with the fiscal policy of the liberal government (surplus) and international stability, creates the growth in Australia over the last 20 years. The ALP just could not deregulate the labor market. Because of its union roots, they could not have done so.

    The reason Workchoice is a problem is that over the last year, the union has blamed every job lost on Workchoice. It does not matter that Mitsubishi/ (insert company here) would have lay off the staff anyway and people would have been lay off under the old system as well.

    The only real change for Workchoice is that it exempt small business (50employees) from unfair dismissal law. Is this fair…. Not to the person getting laid off, but what if the small business was making a loss? Is it fair that the owner will have to close down the business and another 10 people become unemployed? This was what happened at the last recession, and why the recession bit so hard in Australia.

    The argument against work choice is the same as the ones used when we deregulated the financial sector, ie all the manufacturers and farmer will all lose their jobs. As history shown whenever a sector gets deregulated, some people would lose jobs in the short term, however the productivity gain will benefit Australia in the long run, and everyone get richer, ie last 20 years.

    Kevin Rudd knows this and if the ALP wins the next election, they might do something small to appease the union, but they are not going to do much to Workchoice. For the Labor party, this is just a repeat of the GST scare, the world did not end because of the GST and it does not end with Workchoice

  17. Dovif

    It’s perception that counts. True, the world didn’t end because of the GST, but in 2001 it sure looked like it. Economic downturn, rising prices, etc etc. The perception was it was all GST’s fault, so the Coalition was hammered in the polls. Howard’s ‘rollback’ of the GST was miniscule, but again the perception that he was doing something allowed him to gradually fight back (compare Ryan and Aston).

    Likewise the perception of Workchoices is probably much worse than the reality, and any rollback by Labor might be miniscule. But perception is all. In fact, if the poor polls continue I wouldn’t be surprised if Howard engaged in some IR rollback of his own.

  18. I’m guessing that not too many people on this blog have to survive on the minimum wage. For them, WorkChoices is a whole different kettle of fish. Still, at least you’ll all be able to get cheap cleaners for your houses.

    This argument, that it’s just like deregulating any other sector, just underlines what a priveleged position us lot live in. These are actual people we’re talking about, not just units of production. There is a fundamental difference with industrial relations “reform” – that it impacts hardest on those who can least afford it (as does the GST, but we’ll leave that argument for another day). People at the bottom of the pile have traditionally had the protection of a relatively high minimum wage (despite which, we have still managed to be one of the wealthiest countries in the world) and reasonable job security. If you lot can survive on $13 an hour, I’ll take your arguments a little more seriously.

  19. Re: Newcastle.

    The fact that Morris Iemma kicked off the last week of the campaign in Newcastle demonstrates that there is confidence that the ALP can retain the seat of Newcastle. It would have been far more worrying had he chosen to end the week here.

    McKay’s prospects are also bolstered by the fact that she has secured 1st spot on the ballot paper – although an article in a local paper quoted some research from the ANU to show that women do not necessarily benefit from the donkey vote. The 2 main rivals are buried mid-ballot paper. Gaudry may benefit from some Tate flow-ons as he is positioned below the former. However, Gaudry is not advising his supporters to direct preferences and Tate, via a circuitous route (with the Liberal candidate 2nd) is directing preferences to McKay.

    Whilst some of Gaudry’s votes will exhaust it seems to me unlikely that those that choose to provide preferences will flow to Tate as he is clearly seen as the more conservative candidate in a non-conservative electorate. Tate’s decision on preferences may be argued as tactical and based on preferencing those who would deal with him but placing Liberal No. 2 on his how-to-vote was I think a tactical error as it will give the impression that he supports the Liberal Party fundamentally, which is probably the underlying suspicion of the electorate. Placing Gaudry last and the Green candidate, Osborne almost last after McKay also gives the impression that Tate might bear a grudge against his opponents on the Newcastle Council (Osborne is a Green Councillor, Gaudry’s wife is a Labor Councillor).

    Those that want to truly “punish” Labor for dumping Gaudry will probably exhaust before either having to vote for McKay or Tate (as both are seen as equally unpalatable) and this is certainly what Gaudry is advising.

    What is interesting about this Newcastle election is some of the nastier elements that have emerged as well as some of the clever campaign tactics.

    Both Tate and McKay campaigns have been displaying a large number of posters around town. There have been the usual sporadic grafitiing efforts but I am informed that there have been hundreds of ALP posters put up overnight only to be gone in the morning giving the impression of an organised effort at sabotage.

    Gaudry has never taken to displaying posters much and has not changed tact this election. His direct mailout effort has also been limited and he has had no advertising on television suggesting his campaign is much underfunded in contrast to the Tate and McKay campaigns.

    On roughly the same day that John Tate circulated quite a clever direct marketing letter, which identified the person and their suburb and outlined his individual plan for their suburb, a supporter of Jodi McKay letterboxed a handwritten photocopied letter emploring “Dear Neighbour, I urge you to give Jodi a fair go (sic)”.

    In this era of high technology and a cynical public such a down-to-earth plea might just work. There have been criticisms of the McKay campaign but it would be acknowledged by most that she has run a clean campaign and not sought to attack back.

    There have continued to be plently of attacks on Jodi McKay and the ALP in Newcastle. One letter to the Editor of the Herald asked “Who is Jodi McKay anyway?” suggesting she was an interloper whose only claim to fame is as a newsreader on NBN, when the truth is that she has a lengthy connection to the city and has been involved in many worthy causes, particularly local medical research and succesfully run her own business (something few Labor candidates could claim and often a criticism of the Opposition of Labor MPs).

    Another female writer to the Herald had the audacity to criticise Ms McKay’s outfit during a televised debate on NBN – she wore a grey suit, which admittedly was quite modern looking (the accusation was that it was a track suit). None of the male candidates, however, have been blasted for continually wearing dark suits, not shaving their beards or being in need of some botox therapy.

    I will be bold and predict that Labor will hold the seat on Saturday for the following reasons:

    – Tate and Gaudry represent much the same thing to the electors, both are over 60 and male, they collectively have had 32 years in public office so the argument that they could be more effective for Newcastle as an Independent State MP doesn’t quite stack up (e.g. why haven’t they achieved more already?). There has been an argument for change in Newcastle for some time and many calls for Gaudry to be dumped, these appear to have been conveniently forgotten by more recent events and Gaudry succesfully “spinning” his failure to be preselected by the National Executive. However, if one puts parties aside, out of the 3 candidates McKay represents change in a much more manifest manner and Tate and Gaudry appear almost identical. Thus the electorate will be conflicted between changing to something old or staying with the old in order to have a change.
    – With Tate directing preferences to McKay and Gaudry advising an exhaust neither are likely to help out each other so one or the other needs to get ahead of McKay at some point in the count. Even on the Newcastle Herald’s low sample poll this seems unlikely to occur. I predict people are likely to put in a protest by voting Tate or Gaudry or Green but then ALP 2 as they would like to rattle the ALP not necessarily unseat it.
    – Much has been made of Tate securing Liberal preferences and Gaudry the Green preferences, however, the Liberal candidate has been pretty much “running dead” with the local media hounding him unsuccesfully for interviews and in any case psephologists would likely argue that on past experience in an election wtih 2 high-profile candidates opposing the sitting party representative the non-party vote can only be split so many ways and thus it is likely that Liberal and Green pull in a lot fewer votes at this poll than the last one.
    – Unlike most State Elections which are generally fought on State issues, industrial relations and the wish to give a message to John Howard will also be a factor I think.

    I will be (continuing to vote) Labor by the way.

  20. Hugo,

    The AFPC set up under WorkChoices gave award wage workers $27.06 per week as compared to the Industrial Relations Commission of New South Wales which gave $20 per week last year.

    These figures seem to suggest minimum wage workers have done better under a WorkChoices system then one outside of workchoices.

  21. Doesn’t exactly encourage people who have a disability to join the work force. To go from the pension to min wage, which is about all you can expect, your moving from something keeping you barely above the poverty line, along with all the health care and other discounts, to no discounts and about half the income.

    And you wonder why the welfare system is over loaded.

  22. Terrigal is definitely heating up, rec’d 3 pieces of mail from Chris Hartcher on Monday after a very long period of hibernation. There is plenty of ALP material also coming through.

    It’s well known locally he’s spent all his time in Sydney playing games with internal Liberal politics and people are jack of it. Also might help if there is a sense that the ALP will be back in and people want someone who can start delivering locally.

    Partly I think Hartcher’s posters and flyers would be partly to blame. Why would a bald man be photographed side on like he has on a white background… he looks like a thinner, pastier and scarier version of Uncle Fester (I’m being kind). His campaign manager should be shot. If he chose a photo similar to his pollbludger profile, he might not have scared off so many young children and little old ladies.

  23. Much of the campaign against Workchoices is an unfounded scare campaign. However it has been a campaign that has been more effective and more easily perpetuated. Many of the cases ‘cited’ have been resolved, and many would’ve occurred regardless of the IR System.

    The sky hasn’t fallen in, workers haven’t faced mass sackings and the conditions have not been forcibly removed. The reforms are premised on supply and demand, and in a labour market that is set to tighten further, they are needed.

    The catastrophic outcomes would only be seen in economies of over-supply; at which time (in Australia) government would be able to intervene and legislate accordingly.

  24. On campaign posters… something completely irrelevant to current discussion… while I was in brooklyn recently I saw several Fred Nile posters vandalised… Fred has apparently grown a Hitler moustache as well as having the words fascist imprinted on his head. Interesting to what some people think of him. 😛

    But there’s been very little talk on this site on the upper house…. william are you going to post anymore upperhouse guides? What’s everyone guessing for the upperhouse? I saw one in an earlier thread suggesting Labor with 19 or 20 and the CDP voting with them almost everytime. Is this true or a fallacy?

    I personally do not think Labor will get 19 or 20 and will be around 17-18 as they are really on the nose. I have even talked to some people who are just going to fold their voting paper in half and hand it in like that – that’s how much they’ve given up on this election. So there will be a high exhaust rate. Perhaps the CDP might scrape in and have a total of 3 seats, with the possibility or 1 or 2 AAFI and 1 or 2 fishing/horseriding/etc party effectively giving the minors and micros the balance more so than now. Could be very interesting to have a ‘hung’ upperhouse as the term would go.

    It’s interesting that it was suggested earlier the Nationals have a chance of having more seats than the Liberals. But I so doubt this. The day that happens is the day the Greens win both Balmain and Marrickville. And I personally believe Ms Moore isn’t in trouble. After studying her last year, I think she’s quite safe in her seat for now.

    As for ALP seats in the lowerhouse, I’m going from 47-51. A near status quo should be produced, but I agree Labor will loose a couple of seats in the Hunter and possibly one CC seat and possibly Camden. I think they’ll just manage to hold onto the latter.

  25. There’s no Labor campaign to speak of in Epping. If Labor think they’re in with a chance, then it’s not backed up with any on-the-ground evidence.

    More likely, they just want to keep the Libs pinned down in their safe seats.

  26. With all the talk about gambling on the NSW election with Centrebet I assume that all the gamblers live outside NSW . As I understand it under the Electoral Act it is illegal to place a bet on the outcome of the election. Centrebet is not breaching the law because it is situated in Northern Territory and NSW laws don’t apply there. But it applies to anyone living in NSW or present in NSW at the time the bet is placed. Just mention this because I think a lot of people think it is Ok to bet on the NSW election. As I understand it it is OK- provided you live anywhere in the world except NSW.

  27. Hugo

    The minimum wage safetynet had not been remove, and labour supply is pretty liquid in today’s society, if Rupert Murdock wants to move his head quarter to the US, he can and did without workchoice.

    Unless you want to go back to a white Australia policy, the Chinese, the Indians, just like the Italians and Greeks before them, will come to Australia and drives down the wages of unskilled labour, that is going to happen with or without workchoice

    David C

    You make a good point, why should someone work, when they can sit on their backside and get 20k a year? Only 2 option, decrease the safety net, or make it harder for people to stay on welfare. The second scenario is the preferred choice, but the cost is higher

  28. Edward, Stewart, Dovif – none of you have engaged with my central point, which was that none of you have any idea of what it’s like to survive on the minimum wage.

  29. dovif, its already hard to stay on welfare.
    I’d love to work, but people don’t employ anyone who have no experience. How do you get experience? You get a job. When you work out a way to get out of this cycle please let me know.

    I’ve even tried working without a wage for a month while they train me, (job network’s current way of getting things done) but after the month they kick me out.

    So quit blaming the people on welfare, when it is emplorers who don’t give them a chance in the first place.

    ~~~You want to live on welfare and I’ll do your job, thats fine by me.

  30. Hugo
    How is minimum wage affected by Workchoice? Minimum wage had always been there with or without work choice. No doubt it is hard to survive on minimum wage. The question is if minimum wage is too high, what is stopping employer from taking their call centers to India, so they do not have to pay minimum wage? Is it better to have a job or be on Welfare?
    The only way off minimum wage is to become more skilled labour, so your job does not go to China or India. What are needed is incentives to make people more skilled

  31. Dovif, I couldn’t agree more that more training and incentives are needed. But WorkChoices doesn’t provide any of that. It’s an Act which merely allows lazy employers to move some of their employee outgoings to their profit margin. Now I’m not saying all employers are like that, but it is what the Act encourages. The government seems curiously unwilling to provide much analysis of the new system, but what we do know is that there has been no significant rise in productivity, and that certain groups, most significantly women, are losing out.
    I’m all for a flexible labour market, but that felxibility should go both ways.

  32. “You make a good point, why should someone work, when they can sit on their backside and get 20k a year?”

    Welfare payments are just over $200 a week, that equates to a yearly income of just under 11K a year – that’s a long way from the playboy mansion and offers plenty of motivation to land work no matter how poorly paying.

    Also I should mention the disincentives of high-marginal tax rates and the lack of support the government provides on retraining people that are unemployed – many people out of work need more than a swish resume writing course to land a job.

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