Election 2007: Did the union campaign succeed?

Elections Trade unions Australia

The 2007 election was only the sixth bringing a change of government since World War Two. It was also only the second time in Australian history that a prime minister lost his own seat. Interestingly, on both occasions the incumbent government was challenging the pillars of Australia’s industrial relations system. Before the election, the Coalition consistently denied that WorkChoices was the main reason voters were preparing to switch to Labor. After the election, though, this denial was surprisingly and quickly surrendered. The new Liberal leadership and party director conceded the role of industrial relations in the party’s loss and, in February 2008, the Party dropped its opposition to Labor’s alternative industrial relations system. The forthcoming Australian Election Study (AES) findings will allow researchers a deeper understanding of the Coalition’s defeat. In the meantime, the seat-by-seat analysis we present here provides some early insight into the impact of WorkChoices—and the campaign of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) against the laws—on the result.

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