Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard has proved herself to be a skilled but tough negotiator to have got her new industrial relations legislation this far without any major upheavals in trade union ranks and with a broad if somewhat reluctant blessing from most of the major employer organisations. Now she faces the challenge of steering her proposals through a Senate where the Liberal and National parties appear intent on playing a spoiling game.
With previous pieces of legislation where the Opposition has found the support of a minor party to force amendments, the Government has shown a willingness to compromise and accept something rather than nothing but this time things could be different.
The promise to change the industrial laws passed by the Howard Government was a major factor in Labor's victory. The Government would love to keep alive the fear that the election of a Malcolm Turnbull led government would see a return to even more draconian curbs on the ability of workers to negotiate fair terms with employers. Making the Opposition actually defeat the whole of the Gillard proposal at least a first time around would be an excellent way of doing just that.