Dealing with the unions appears to be problematic for the Prime Minister. He used yesterday’s employment figures to rush out and hold a full scale presser in the Prime Ministerial Courtyard to say that they proved WorkChoices is working.

As, of course, he would. What politician wouldn’t jump on a favourable economic indicator if it seemed to support their case?

But the PM also probably realised – or had been told – that he had given the union movement an almighty fillip the day before.

He got quite carried away in a doorstop on Wednesday when he denounced the advertising campaign the Australian Education Union is running in 20 marginals. “That’s a dishonest advertisement, a dishonest advertisement…” was how his response began. He immediately turned the ads into a major story – Howard and the unions fighting (again) over a Labor issue, education.

The John Howard of old would have brushed it off with something like “Unions attacking me? What do you expect?” Instead, he guaranteed it a huge run.

Yesterday’s effort didn’t do much to compensate.

Get Crikey for $1 a week.

Lockdowns are over and BBQs are back! At last, we get to talk to people in real life. But conversation topics outside COVID are so thin on the ground.

Join Crikey and we’ll give you something to talk about. Get your first 12 weeks for $12 to get stories, analysis and BBQ stoppers you won’t see anywhere else.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
12 weeks for just $12.