Greens in late bid to delay Morrison government’s union-busting legislation

If the Greens secure Labor and crossbench support, it would mean the union bill would not pass the Senate until Mr Porter resolved the debate over the government’s proposed Commonwealth Integrity Commission, which critics say is too limited in scope.


Greens industrial relations spokesman Adam Bandt said while he did not like the union-busting bill, “if it’s going to pass, it shouldn’t come into effect until Parliament has also established a proper watchdog to oversee politicians and senior public officials”.

He will appeal to Labor, Centre Alliance and Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie, all of whom backed the Greens’ anti-corruption legislation in the Senate in September, to support the amendment.

“Parliament shouldn’t force workers and their unions to abide by new ‘integrity’ standards while letting politicians continue to escape scrutiny,” Mr Bandt said.

Senator Lambie declined to comment on the amendments on Friday or confirm her position, despite previously vowing to vote for the bill if CFMMEU secretary John Setka did not resign. Senator Hanson has previously promised to consult with the unions on the amendments before confirming her vote.

Centre Alliance senator Rex Patrick on Friday said: “We negotiated the government amendments so clearly agree with them. We have also agreed to support the One Nation amendments.”

The amendments include a demerit point system under which union officials could be subject to an application for disqualification only if they incurred 180 penalty units in workplace law breaches, or their union racked up 900 penalty units and the official failed to take “reasonable steps” to prevent at least two contraventions, over a decade.

A court must not disqualify an official or deregister an organisation “unless it is satisfied that having regard to the gravity of the conduct … the making of the order would not be unjust”, and would have discretion to decide whether to proceed.

A public interest test for union amalgamations would apply only to organisations that had 20 “compliance record events” in the decade before the tie-up.

While it removes the ability of the minister or a person with “sufficient interest” to apply to the Federal Court for an official to be disqualified or a union deregistered, leaving this to the Registered Organisations Commission, employers would be able to refer matters to the commissioner.

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