Government’s union-busting Ensuring Integrity bill defeated in the Senate

Senator Lambie had released her own amendments on Wednesday night, but Attorney-General Christian Porter responded that they were “unworkable”.

Mr Porter and Centre Alliance senator Rex Patrick, who negotiated amendments with the government, both refused to negotiate with Senator Lambie, saying the proposed changes came too late in the debate.

During the debate on Thursday, Labor senators spoke at length about the potential for the bill to impact on workers’ right to strike, which the Lambie amendments had sought to address.

Labor senator Tony Sheldon, former secretary of the Transport Workers Union, recounted how the union had taken unprotected industrial action – which would incur demerit points under the bill – to protest unsafe working conditions for armoured guards after a fatal shooting.

Mr Porter said in Parliament on Thursday that Labor was “in denial about the existence of militant unionism”.

“They just deny its very existence,” he said.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese said the government was trying to pass “rotten laws” that were “an attack on the right of trade unions to exist”.

Senator Patrick told the ABC shortly before the bill went to a vote that a court would have to consider “the gravity of the offence” – and whether the industrial action related to public health, such as when nurses strike over patient ratios – before disqualifying an official.

More to come.


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