One Nation has released its own proposed amendments, which aim to to ensure only officials convicted of criminal offences – or fined over significant workplace law breaches – can be disqualified.
The Australian Council of Trade Unions says the demerit point system – under which a union official could be disqualified if they accrued 180 penalty units of workplace law breaches, or their union racked up 900 penalty units – would unfairly punish volunteer officials for paperwork errors.
It remains unclear over what timeframe the demerit points would be calculated, with the ACTU concerned by the possibility accidental breaches may add up over time to capture even the least-militant unions.
Mr Porter said the demerit point approach would create “a fair system” while allowing the bill to achieve its aim of clamping down on unlawful behaviour on Australian construction sites by the militant Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union.
Senator Lambie, who has previously vowed to vote for the bill if CFMMEU Victorian secretary John Setka did not resign, said in a statement on Wednesday that she would not vote for any legislation if she was unsure of how it would operate.
“You don’t end the career of a union official or cancel the registration of a union on a lark,” she said.
Senator Hanson said One Nation was seeking its own amendments to the bill “after listening to the unions and their members who took the time to consult with my office”.
“I won’t stand for union bashing and therefore I won’t support the deregistration of organisations for misdemeanour offences like late paperwork submissions,” she said.
“I have, however, forewarned union bosses that bullying and thuggery must be stamped out in accordance with public expectations.”
Senator Hanson said unions had “raised a quantity of genuine concerns” about the original draft of the bill and demanded Mr Porter “release all amendments … ASAP”.
Senator Lambie agreed, saying the crossbench “needs to take the time to get the views of people who have skin in the game”.
Dana is health and industrial relations reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.