WorkChoices is back! We have that from the Prime Minister’s very own mouth. Well, at least that’s what the reptiles of the Press Gallery were told in the Government Party Room briefing this morning.

The Coalition spokesman says that the PM talked to the meeting about last week’s employment figures, saying that 360,000 jobs had been created “since WorkChoices”, 95% of them full-time.

And although we were told that the atmosphere in the meeting was “very positive”, IR isn’t all good news for the government. They are moving yet another lot of amendments to their revamped workplace relations legislation, dealing with the fairness test.

The PM told his troops today that Labor still faces “a formidable task” winning the seats needed to gain government.

While he admitted the polls “were very mixed”, he stressed that Labor faces “a very formidable arithmetical challenge”.

He pointed to last week’s economic figures as a sign of strength – and warned that if four state governments have increased debt, it is a sign that a federal Labor government would “do the same”.

The PM described the union movement as Labor’s “Achilles’ heel”, saying the party was “more riddled with unionists” than when he joined the parliament back in 1974.

The Treasurer – smirking, no doubt – said the national account figures were so good Paul Keating had claimed credit for them, but warned Coalition MPs that the economy remains delicately balanced.

He also recycled Keating’s Lateline lines about Rudd’s advisers needing focus groups before they decided which side of bed to get out on.

The Labor leader “is completely driven by image” the Treasurer claimed. “We have to push through the façade and get to the other side,” he said.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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