There is little doubt that the uncertainty of the election result is good for journalists. There seem to be an enormous number of newspaper articles today analysing the reasons for the poor showing of Labor and the gains made by the Coalition, although some of the commentary is also focusing on why the Coalition was not able to make it across the line (eg. Baume in the Fin).
Relatively little attention is given, however, to the question: was targetting WorkChoices a mistake for Labor? And, of course, it was not just Labor but the ACTU, Paul Howes (mmmm), GetUp and others. Certainly, in the dying days of the campaign, Julia stepped up the shrill-o-meter on this issue, repeating the point that Abbott was lying about his intention to leave WorkChoices dead, buried and cremated (always seemed like a bit of overkill, Tony). The journalists travelling with her evidently got to the point of wondering whether she was lying on this point.
After all, anything other than a procedural change to the regulations of the Fair Work Act would require both Houses to approve and so Tony Abbott’s promise was never needed. Having said that, it was something of a pity given the possibly job-destroying operation of the unfair dismissal provisions (increasing in number, some bizarre decisions already, the small business dismissal code requiring revision – yes, by regulation by the Rudd/Gillard government) and the need for some form of individual contracting (and, yes, there is scope within the Fair Work Act for individual flexibility arrangements, although they are being effectively scuttled by the trade unions).
After all, when Julia told us she saw job creation as the central issue, she failed to draw the connection with policies that promote labour market flexibility, which her Fair Work Act undermines. My guess is that others did pick up on this inconsistency.