Coalition to press reset on union-busting bill

Attorney-General Christian Porter. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong
Attorney-General Christian Porter. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Attorney-General Christian Porter has cracked the door open to Jacqui Lambie, as it revives its push to crack down on rogue unions.

The Morrison government's bill to deregister unions and ban officials will be reintroduced to parliament on Wednesday, less than a week after its humiliating defeat in the Senate.

One Nation blindsided the government and helped to block the bill, citing concerns about white collar crime.

The Coalition had relied on the party to get the bill over the line, after cutting lines of communication with Senator Lambie over proposed amendments she said would have driven CFMMEU boss John Setka out of the union movement.

Attorney-General Christian Porter said he would bring the "ensuring integrity" bill back into the House of Representatives to press reset and start a fresh round of negotiations with the crossbench.

The bill would be the same as what was voted on in the Senate last week, based on amendments from Centre Alliance and One Nation, he said.

But Mr Porter said the government "remains willing to engage constructively with all crossbench senators in order to ultimately secure this important reform."

"Since the bill was voted on last week in the Senate, issues have been raised which were not raised with the government during consultations on the bill," Mr Porter said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison signalled on Tuesday the government would not back away from the controversial reforms.

Mr Porter also told Coalition party room colleagues the reason why the bill was difficult to pass was also the reason it was important.

Senator Lambie has been critical of the way the government handled the negotiations over the union busting bill.

"They were too cocky that they'd get their win without me. Well, guess what. Look where that gets you," she said.

"I gave the government the chance to support amendments that protect good unionists and line up bad ones. They said no, we'll go it alone, and they lost. Now there's nothing. And thanks to the Coalition's bloody-minded arrogance, they have nothing to show for their work."

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson said she could not support the bill as it would have given "unfettered powers" to administrators appointed over unions.

"We have seen the highly questionable behaviour of administrators, liquidators, receivers, and managers exercise unlimited powers on their appointment by the banks," she said.

"Under no circumstance was I going to unleash their unlimited power and zero accountability on Australian unions or other registered organisations."

This story Coalition to press reset on union-busting bill first appeared on The Canberra Times.