WorkChoices deserves some credit

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After Simon Crean distorted the facts on jobs growth this morning, I played around with the ABS labour force data.

Turns out he couldn’t have picked a worse 4 year period to compare Labor’s record against the Coalition’s.

The last four years of the Howard government saw the greatest number of jobs created than in any other four period on record!

The only other period that comes close is the four year period to 1989. (For the record the 4 years to 2011, which Crean was trying to defend, was only the 16th highest period for job creation out of 30 years on record.)

Raises the question about why more commentators don’t defend the economic impact, rather than the political impact, of WorkChoices.

Some (such as George Mega and Bernard Keane) lament the lack of true economic reform of recent times but then none of them give due credit to WorkChoices.

Here is the chart of annual employment growth over the past 30 years.


  1. It’s the social impact that’s more important than the economic or political impact, that’s why it failed. It could be said that the social impact created the negative political impact.

    Howard going power-mad and reverting to type once he got control of the senate doomed him. Maybe the best that can be hope for is that every government controls both houses and so gets kicked out pronto.

  2. Mr Page,

    You need to do an econometric test to see if workchoices had ANY impact at all.

    That is a little more sophisticated then comparing 4 year periods particualy where one has the impact of the GFC!

    Thus far NO-ONE has been able to show any structural break occuring when workchoices came in. In other words it had no impact at all on employment growth.

    Not surprising on an intuitive basis. It was large scale re-regulation. It was over 1800 pages of legislation.

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