||Issue No. 291||25 November 2005|
Interview: Public Defender
Legal: Craig's Story
Unions: Wrong Way, Go Back
Politics: Queue Jumping
History: Iron Heel
Economics: Waging War
International: Under Pressure
Poetry: Billy Negotiates An AWA
Review: A Pertinent Proposition
The Locker Room
Name and Shame
Unite and Fight
The Worker's Best Friend
Stop the Corporate Rot
Howard Loses Poll Position
Twin polls, run for the News Ltd and Fairfax organisations last week, saw Howard's approval rating drop to its lowest levels in nearly five years.
More significantly, the Herald poll opened up the possibility that his government could be rolled by a rejuvenated Opposition, putting Labor ahead of the Coalition by a massive 58-42 margin in two-party preferred terms.
The Liberal-National vote was down six percent, while support for the ALP jumped seven percent.
The results, which would have seen the Coalition crushed in an election, were mirrored in a Newspoll that had the Coalition trailing 46-54 in two-party terms.
The polls recorded the most dramatic political shifts in a single month, since 2001, and the largest fall in the Coalition's share of the vote in the nine and a half years of the Howard regime.
Howard struck out badly when respondents in the Herald poll turned their attention to workplace change. Sixty percent expressed "dissatisfaction" with his agenda, based on the destruction of collective bargaining and hamstringing trade unions.
The polling, by both news organisations, was done the week after half a million Australians attended protests against "Workchoices" legislation.
Commentators, from across the spectrum, put the Coalition poll reversals down to industrial relations and the planned sale of Telstra.
Howard reacted to the reverses by dropping his long-practised routine of "refusing to be a political commentator".
``It seems obvious to me that the major reason for the turnaround in the Government's fortunes in both polls is the unease in the community about the workplace relations changes,'' he admitted.
Howard appears to have been blind-sided by union campaigning against his radical rewrite of workplace rules.
Instead of snap strikes and rowdy protests, they have orchestrated a community campaign, highlighted by peaceful mass rallies, and under-pinned by effective, targeted advertising.
This month's mass rallies were a case in point, with religious leaders, entertainers, academics, rank-and-file workers, and politicians sharing the microphone with union leaders.
Union members have taken the issue to their churches, sports clubs, schools, neighbourhood meetings and commuter carriages.
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