The following is the text of my contribution to the NSW Fabians event next Tuesday.
Former prime minister Kevin Rudd, saw unions as just so many interest groups he had to deal with.
Kevin Rudd could imagine a form of social democracy that was not centred on unions.
Even if unions are interest groups, or are becoming interest groups, they are well-resourced and politically potent.
Despite everything that has happened since the hey day of the Accord in the 1980s, unions are still a big part of Australian society.
And unions are still natural allies of the ALP.
Since the Accord, the relationship between unions and the ALP has also changed.
It is still important to both sides.
There is still a high degree of dependence in the relationship.
One hundred and twenty years later, unions still need a political party that is firmly supportive of collective organisation and collective action.
Financial and other resources from unions still give the ALP an important electoral advantage.
But there is a paradox.