Now that Tony Abbott has been forced into an industrial relations policy -- recall that he literally had no policy on the issue last year, in a mostly successful attempt to defuse the threat of WorkChoices -- it will be intriguing to see how the Liberals sell the need for industrial relations reform.
As Crikey has repeatedly pointed out, so far Labor's IR framework has accommodated the return to near full employment without any surge in wages growth or rise in industrial disputation levels. Under the Fair Work regime, the economy is producing hundreds of thousands of jobs with no wages explosion and no surge in strike action as workers and employers tussle over the spoils of the recovery.
Rather than deal with actual data, IR reform advocates have retreated to nebulously claiming that the Fair Work regime is hampering productivity, although without providing examples. A classic case is Alan Mitchell's op-ed piece in today's AFR (which, even more than The Australian, reflexively advocates IR reform without any evidentiary basis). "Gillard's industrial relations reforms will add something to wage inflation," says Mitchell, but provides no further elaboration or evidence to back it up.