Mr Porter, the Morrison government’s industrial relations minister, rejected Senator Lambie’s proposed amendments in November as “totally unworkable”, but restarted negotiations after failing to pass the bill in the Senate when One Nation senators voted against it.
Asked if she stood by her previous threat to vote for the bill if controversial Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union Victorian Secretary John Setka did not resign, Senator Lambie said: “We’re not just talking about John Setka”.
“There’s other bad eggs in the CFMEU,” she said.
“Of course, I’m not going to sit here and say John Setka doesn’t play into this because that’s the truth of the matter. The boy is still standing there.”
Senator Lambie said she was not yet ready to support the legislation and was “still talking through” her requested amendments, which would wipe out “a few schedules” in the bill.
Mr Porter has told the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age he is willing to amend the bill to give Senator Lambie “reassurance” it will not put ordinary union members at risk, if her proposed changes do not interfere with its aim of stamping out repeated union law-breaking.
The amendments sent to Mr Porter by Senator Lambie in November included removing two schedules that would allow the courts to block union mergers or appoint administrators to take control of dysfunctional unions.
Her amendments would also prevent union officials from being disqualified for taking unprotected industrial action, with disqualification reserved for “serious contraventions” and existing penalties for illegal strikes retained but not expanded.
Unions had raised concerns the bill would enable volunteer officials to be disqualified over accidental paperwork breaches such as failing to lodge forms on time, an issue Centre Alliance sought to address in amendments incorporated into the failed bill.
Senator Lambie said some constitutional issues had arisen in redrafting the bill’s demerit point scheme.
Her proposed amendments include raising the bar for union deregistration by requiring three serious breaches in three years, or a criminal conviction of at least 1500 penalty units.
Centre Alliance senator Rex Patrick and One Nation leader Pauline Hanson, who each control two Senate votes, said they had not seen the Lambie amendments and were yet to decide whether to support them.
The government needs either Centre Alliance or One Nation’s support, along with that of Senator Lambie, to pass the bill.