Amanda Stoker’s speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday was not crafted to be a crowd pleaser.

Other speakers at the controversial event in Sydney threw red meat to the audience.

Right-wing activist Raheem Kassam repeatedly slammed Labor Senator Kristina Keneally. Former prime minister Tony Abbott drew enthusiastic cheers as he spoke out against abortion and “self-serving victim culture”.

RELATED: Kassam labels Labor senator ‘chicken Keneally’

RELATED: Tony Abbott hits slams abortion law at CPAC

Senator Stoker, by contrast, mused at some length about the relatively dull topic of industrial relations policy, saying unfair dismissal laws were a “block to growth” for small and medium-sized businesses.

“No one puts off an employee that is truly adding value unless the business is in dire straits. It should be enough, especially in small and medium-sized businesses, to make a call that a person isn’t the right fit.”

It didn’t get any attention, but her speech may have been the most politically relevant one of the day.

The Financial Review reports there is a growing push from the Coalition’s backbench for small and medium businesses to be exempted from unfair dismissal laws — an echo of Ms Stoker’s argument.

“We all know there needs to be structural reform,” one MP, who wished to remain anonymous, told the newspaper.

“What isn’t acceptable is inaction.”

These backbenchers are advocating for a significant change to Australia’s industrial relations system, and a politically contentious one.

Labor pounced on the idea today, labelling it “WorkChoices 2.0” and saying it “should worry every Australian”.

“Scott Morrison must stand up to his backbench and immediately rule out any industrial relations changes that would make it easier for bosses to sack people,” said industrial relations spokesman Tony Burke.

“The Liberals didn’t mention IR during the election campaign and now we know why — because they want to resurrect key elements of WorkChoices.

“Unfair Dismissal laws protect people from being dismissed from their job in a harsh, unjust or unreasonable manner. They are an important safeguard.”

The comparison to WorkChoices feeds into Labor’s broader argument that the make-up of the current Senate has given the government a dangerous conservative majority.

John Howard’s Coalition government had a majority in both chambers of parliament when it passed its industrial relations reforms, labelled WorkChoices, in 2005.

The unpopular law became a cornerstone of the campaign to turf out the Howard government in 2007.

The current government does not have a Senate majority in its own right, but is able to pass legislation with the help of independent Senator Jacqui Lambie and One Nation.

The blow-up over industrial relations policy comes amid a government review into Australia’s workplace laws.

Christian Porter, whose increasingly long list of jobs includes the industrial relations portfolio, is currently overseeing that review.

He has previously said the Fair Work Commission’s processing of unfair dismissal claims is “ripe for improvement”.

However the review was mainly commissioned to examine concerns that the definition of a casual employee lacks clarity in the current law.

It will also ask whether the process for approving enterprise bargaining agreements through the Fair Work Commission could be streamlined.

Mr Porter has said any changes to the industrial relations system should meet three criteria — it needs to increase jobs, grow wages and strengthen the economy.

Source