People who actually know their politics – as opposed to some of the PC cultural comissars who write froth at the mouth letters to the editor when the phrase gets wheeled out – know that a “beauty contest” is an obvious attempt to appeal to voters. And we’ve certainly got an IR beauty contest on.

Joe Hockey is busy putting lipstick on a pig, while Julia Gillard has already softened her hair cut and her hair colour – and even found some outfits that don’t clash with it.

So, what do the judges make of it all?

A Morgan Poll released late last week found a higher proportion of Australian electors say Labor’s Deputy Leader Julia Gillard (50%) would be a better Workplace Relations Minister than current minister Joe Hockey (31%), while 19% were undecided.

And as part of last week’s survey, Special Morgan Poll Qualitative Research was conducted that looked at reasons why electors said Joe Hockey or Julia Gillard would make the better Minister for Workplace Relations.

A significant number of electors who said Hockey is a better Minister for Workplace Relations than Gillard raised concerns that if Labor was successful at the election, Gillard would restore too much power to the unions:

“Gillard is hardcore with the unions.”

“Hockey is not taking us back to the 1970’s, unlike Labor.”

“Because Gillard is union, union, union, and nothing else.”

“I personally think that Gillard supports the unions and I’m not very keen on that.”

“Currently I’m not involved with a union and I’m quite happy with that.”

“The Liberal Party has the runs on the board as far as the economy goes. The last time Labor was in Government they destroyed the economy and the Liberals had to fix it up.”

Despite Hockey attributing last week to Gillard’s bigger media profile, a number of his supporters didn’t think Big Joe did too badly:

“From what I’ve seen in the media I think Hockey carries himself better and is more confident in his approach.”

“Because I watch him on Sunrise.”

“From what I see on television he is familiar and he seems to be better than Gillard, but that is only an opinion from what I see on television. He just comes across better.”

“I am happy with Hockey’s performance so far. Also I don’t have any information on the other candidate, so it’s hard to make a comparison between the two.”

Interestingly, though, the major contributing factor for a number of Gillard’s supporters is that they believe it is time for a woman to become involved in the upper echelon of politics:

“She’s a woman and is more fair-minded. She is for the workers instead of big business.”

“Because she’s a female and I think she is good. I like her.”

“I’ll give her a go – it is about time there are more women ministers.”

“She is a woman and she understands the situation better.”

“It’s about time a women became involved in workplace relations because it needs to be more family focused.”

“Gillard is a brilliant woman, absolutely brilliant. I’d give it to her hands down, no hesitation – she should be Prime Minister! I think the boys are concerned about her power because she’s female.”

“She’s a woman and I think she knows about health issues.”

“Youth, freshness, and she’s a woman who rises to a challenge. It’s good to have a female there.”

And, of course, Gillard supporters cite a general disillusionment with the Howard Government’s industrial relations laws:

“I don’t like the Liberal Government and I think it’s time for change and a greater level of fairness.”

“I disagree completely with the way things are set up at the moment.”

“I just don’t think that the John Howard’s workplace laws are fair.”

“Because I think in relation to the workplace relations, the whole thing has been a big stuff up.”