Compo Reform: Media Fail, Politics Fail

So the  Telegraph editorial  welcomes long overdue reforms to the NSW Workers Compensation scheme and describes it as a difficult reform in an emotional area.

At the same time Alicia Wood’s  Telegraph article  plays every emotional card in the pack, doesn’t address the facts of the debate, and follows the journalist’s creed: personalise, demonise, emotionalise, and of course, find a victim.

And the subeditor really went to town on the headline: O’Farrell puts boot into workers!

Expected from the Telegraph. But again, as I mentioned regarding public sector change, what is disappointing is the poor politics behind these reforms. The ground hasn’t been laid. The issues haven’t been in the public arena even though policy wonks and politicos have been talking about them for years.

Major reforms like this should generate a response of “what took you so long” following a concerted campaign to bring the issues to public notice. Alliances of industry associations, small business owners, thoughtful public servants and NGOs focused on getting money where it is needed should have been communicating Workers Comp problems for years.

While it won’t occur here, it is terribly galling when good policy gets reversed because of a media backlash from orchestrated vested interests. Those media campaigns only have legs because the need for reform was never built in the community.

Unless it is part of a “go hard, go early” post election change (thanks Campbell), every controversial policy deserves the communications groundwork to ensure it is likely to be accepted by the broader community, and to counter the emotional special pleading from the likes of Ms Wood.

Without it good policy is open to being misrepresented as ‘nastiness’ – the perennial smear the Left use against the centre Right. And the cumulative effect of those smears has a long term political and policy effect. Just look at PM Cameron.

Maybe it’s a lack of  funds, staff or mindspace. Maybe it’s a belief that if you spring a difficult change on people their interest will fade fast enough for it to never be a problem. But to this blogger it looks more like crappy project and comms management and an inability to see beyond the news cycle.

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