Jacqui Lambie open to reconsidering support for union-busting laws


“The trouble is that this was never going to get rid of John Setka. And my amendments, we believe, would have done that,” Senator Lambie told the ABC on Sunday.

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“Nobody wanted to discuss anything with us across the table. We had the amendments. We spent many hours between the drafter’s office and my office and my people, and nobody still wanted to open discussion.”

Mr Setka was given a good behaviour bond in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court in June after pleading guilty to harassing his wife, Emma Walters.

He later quit the Australia Labor Party following attempts from federal leader Anthony Albanese to remove him while ACTU secretary Sally McMan­us called for for him to resign as union secretary.

Senator Lambie said the government had not yet contacted her about reconsidering her support but added she was “open to talks”.

“You know, if it’s going to make sure that the CFMEU is cleaned up and they’re still not getting the message, even though, from their top echelon, they are saying that we’ve really felt it this time,” she said.

“They have some cleaning up to do in their own backyard and they have some honour that’s got to be delivered and I’d like to see that done as quickly as possible, otherwise we will be talking about this bill in the new year.”

She said the CFMEU had the opportunity to “show some good will” and “do what they said they were going to do, very quickly”.

Resources Minister Matt Canavan lashed out at Senator Hanson for abandoning her support for the laws, saying she was taking Australians for “mugs” and can’t be trusted.

“When you vote for minor parties and independents it’s often the Forrest Gump story. You just don’t know what you’re going to get,” Senator Canavan told Sky News Australia on Sunday.

“I think Pauline here is trying to take the Australian people as mugs. The thinking’s gone a little bit to her head.”

Senator Canavan said One Nation had been on board as the bill made its way through parliament.

“The most important currency you’ve got in politics is trust and Pauline Hanson has shown over the last week she can’t be trusted,” he said.

He called on One Nation to come clean on what was said in meetings with Senator Hanson and union leaders.

Labor senator Penny Wong said she was “pleased” Senator Hanson decided to vote for the legislation and it was “much better for the country” that the laws were not passed.

“This was a bill all about cleaning out the trade union movement, taking out the trade union movement so that the Government had a clear run for WorkChoices 2,” Senator Wong told the ABC.

She said the government had made the laws about Mr Setka’s behaviour when it was really “a pathway to further attacks on wages and conditions”.

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