Prime Minister Tony Abbott has put ridding the country of "industrial lawlessness" at the heart of his plan to grow the economy and improve the budget.
As parliament resumed on Monday, Labor leader Bill Shorten accused the prime minister of being a “wimp” when it came to standing up for jobs in the wake of manufacturing plant closures.
The comment parodied Mr Abbott’s description of Immigration Minister Scott Morrison as not being a “wimp” when it came to border protection.
Mr Abbott told parliament he deeply regretted recent job losses, but it was his job in government to give businesses a fighting chance of flourishing.
“I am doing what I can in this parliament as prime minister to remove the taxes, and the regulation and industrial lawlessness which is damaging the job prospects of decent Australian workers,” Mr Abbott said.
“I will do that for as long as there is breath in my body.”
The prime minister found some support from Business Council president Tony Shepherd, who told a forum in Melbourne that labour costs accounted for a third of cost blowouts on infrastructure projects.
The chairman of the national commission of audit said the reinstatement of the Australian Building and Construction Commission should help control such costs.
The government sees infrastructure spending as one of the drivers of growth, to help bring the budget back to surplus and meet its target of one million jobs created over the next five years.
Environment Minister Greg Hunt accused Mr Shorten of ordering an “industrial go-slow” in the Senate, which is blocking the repeal of the carbon tax.
In a bid to pressure Labor over the repeal, Mr Hunt has issued a ministerial determination to stop carbon emission permit auctions before June 30.
As the government considers a 900-page report from its commission of audit, Labor deputy leader Tanya Plibersek asked the prime minister whether he could guarantee one of the areas of budget cuts being considered was pensions.
“There is a big challenge and we will address it in ways that are consistent with our election commitments,” Mr Abbott said.
Labor families spokeswoman Jenny Macklin said the prime minister couldn’t bring himself to use the word pension.
“This is a broken promise to every Australian pensioner who took the Prime Minster at his word on polling day,” she said.