The Cabinet has been sworn in and the Rudd Government is getting down to business, but new Workplace Relations Minister Julia Gillard says changes to industrial relations laws may not be implemented until the second half of next year.

Gillard indicated on Meet the Press yesterday that the government will present its legislation in two stages. A bill to phase out Australian Workplace Agreements will be ready when parliament returns next year, but further legislation, including changes to unfair dismissal laws, may not be tabled until the middle of next year.

Crikey readers will spot the timing. The bill will appear around the time the make-up of the Senate changes.

Senate numbers are always important. Indeed, the Coalition’s control of the Senate was a major issue in the election campaign. So why didn’t we hear more from the major media on the lead Senate candidates from minor parties? Sure, there were a handful of profiles, but there was virtually no coverage of policy positions.

It was a virtual certainty that South Australian No Pokies MLC Nick Xenophon would be coming to Canberra, but who quizzed him in detail on other issues? Who quizzed the lead Green in his state? Or in WA?

A number of things should be obvious about the Senate.

A push was one to end Coalition control at the last election. It has succeeded. The Coalition, however, has been left with good numbers in the upper house. The Coalition, with two other votes, can scuttle Labor’s legislation.

The Rudd Government can wave the double dissolution stick, but this may not be much of a threat. On current voting trends, a double dissolution would probably give the Greens seven seats – two in Tasmania and one from every other state. The Liberals would probably benefit. It might boost Family First.

Which leads us to another question. Labor ran a very strong campaign – but ignored the Senate.

Kevin Rudd crossed the Ts and dotted the Is, but seemed to leave the Senate to chance and hope. Will he regret this decision?