John Howard reprieve

Prime Minister John Howard had a reprieve in the polls this morning and other new polls may give some indication why. Today’s Newspoll shows Howard has gained some ground on Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd with a four-point improvement in the Coalition’s primary vote to 41% compared to Labor’s 47%.

And one reason could be that the electorate’s concerns are swinging once more to concerns about rising interest rates and away from IR and environmental issues.

The new Sensis survey out today shows that Australians are now more concerned about rising interest rates than workplace relations, with the level of concern about the workplace relations system falling.

Report author Christena Singh says workplace relations attitudes which Sensis has tracked since 2005 appear to be softening in their stance.

“The proportion of Australians agreeing in principle with the workplace relations system rose during the quarter to the highest level we’ve seen,” she says.

About six in 10 Australians believe the workplace relations system has either had a positive impact or no impact at all.

The main reasons Australian have a positive view about the workplace is they believe it is possible to negotiate a good deal, a belief that unions previously had too much say and that good workers can be rewarded.

Just one-third of Australians believe the workplace relations system has a negative impact because there is a perception that employees lose their rights, a belief that changes were good for employees and a belief wages could be cut.

While the poll was taken in August it could well be sniffing out a change in attitudes.

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