Uncle Joe Hockey has responded to the release of a report on school students’ experience of, and attitudes to, WorkChoices and work by proclaiming, “it’s complete rubbish”:

The report, commissioned by the New South Wales Teachers’ Federation, says students are working longer and later hours in part-time jobs and it is affecting their school work.

But Industrial Relations Minister Joe Hockey says that is not the case. “It’s complete rubbish,” he said. “It’s not founded on any science, it’s not founded on any research.

“It’s another stunt from the union bosses and we expect to see that every day between now and polling day.”

If it’s not founded on any research, it’s odd that a 46-page research report can easily be accessed through the Teachers’ Federation website, which also carries a summary of the findings.

I’ve had a read of the methodology section, and it appears to be a legitimate research design and to have been conducted according to a recognised methodology.

Academics and universities have been concerned for some years at the increased pressure students face as a result of work demands. It doesn’t seem to me to be rocket science that longer hours at work chasing the same income from diminished hourly rates of pay are going to lead to more tired kids.

And since young workers are particularly vulnerable to exploitation, and retail and hospitality are among the leading sectors where AWAs are becoming more common, and where there’s evidence of the removal of conditions and duress of various kinds, it doesn’t seem to me to be illegitimate to inquire into young workers’ knowledge and experience of employment regulation, rights and conditions.

There are serious issues here, and the Federation hoped to engender a serious debate. The findings of the report don’t deserve to be quashed by an ogre of a ministerial press release.