If WorkChoices is dead, Julie Bishop is Dr Frankenstein. She’s got the corpse on a table and is going to keep working feverishly until new life flows through its cold, hard veins.

Like any good Gothic tale, of course, we know this will end badly. Reanimated corpses always make a point of turning on their creators and wreaking havoc. Punishment for hubris, and all that stuff.

Bishop would deny that she’s playing Frankenstein to the monster of Workchoices. Instead, she’s working on the Bride of WorkChoices, AWAs. But either way, it’s going to end in screams and a fiery wreck. All that’s missing is Elsa Lanchester and the Universal logo.

Is this woman mad? Is the right of the Liberal Party so massively in denial that it thinks it can keep pushing IR reform? Bishop appears so driven by ideology that she can’t understand that Australians, who voted in their millions against WorkChoices, do not distinguish in the slightest between it and AWAs. Bishop can make all the arguments she likes about what IR reforms got passed by whom and when. No one’s listening.

And the Liberal line that the Government’s IR changes will lead to a wages breakout isn’t going to work, either. Currently, most voters would be delighted with higher wages to help offset cost of living pressures. Besides which, it’s barely six months since Joe Hockey was boasting that WorkChoices delivered higher real wages.

Commentators keep pointing out the Liberals did very well in Western Australia in November. The corollary of that is that they did really badly everywhere else, and mainly because of IR. Maybe Western Australians love Workchoices. Who knows? More to the point, who cares? Everyone else hates it. That’s the basic reality that many, but evidently not enough, Federal Liberals have accepted.

Unless the Liberals put a stop to this nonsense quickly, Kevin Rudd is already on track to win a second election courtesy of WorkChoices. The failure of the Opposition to pass his industrial relations bill, regardless of the merits or otherwise of Labor’s rather half-baked new system, will be political gold come the next election. But instead of figuring this out, the Liberals appear to be more interested in fighting amongst themselves, with Christopher Pyne and Malcolm Turnbull squaring off against Nick Minchin. Brendan Nelson, who is supposed to be in charge of this mob, looks increasingly helpless.

If this keeps up, Ms Bishop’s reanimation skills may soon be needed for his leadership.

Peter Fray

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