House debates

Thursday, 28 November 2019

Questions without Notice

Workplace Relations

2:35 pm

Photo of Tim WilsonTim Wilson (Goldstein, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Attorney-General and Minister for Industrial Relations. Will the Attorney outline to the House how the Morrison government is addressing the very real issue of militant unionism on Australian worksites? Is he aware of alternative approaches?

Mr Hill interjecting

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The member for Bruce will leave under standing order 94(a).

The member for Bruce then left the chamber.

Photo of Christian PorterChristian Porter (Pearce, Liberal Party, Attorney-General) Share this | | Hansard source

Members opposite are in denial about the existence of militant unionism. They just deny its very existence. Right now in the Senate, being debated, is the ensuring union integrity bill, one of most important bills before the parliament. What it seeks to do is stop militant union officials actively, deliberately and repetitively breaking the law, and no-one should doubt the deliberate nature of the law-breaking. The head of the union movement in Australia, Sally McManus, said:

… I don't think there's a problem with breaking it—

the law. 'I don't think there is a problem with breaking the law.' John Setka, head of the CFMEU in Victoria, said: 'If you play by the laws you will never win. That's why we fight outside the law.' And last night that policy position crossed over into Labor policy when Labor senator Glenn Sterle stated Labor's position as being that union officials have to break the law.

If Labor's position now is that union officials have to break the law, if that's the job description of union officials, then this House can be well informed, based on years of bitter, real-world experience. In the real world every day what is it that militant union officials have to do? What laws are they that Labor say militant union officials have to break? Do militant union officials have to assault police? Do they have to resist arrest? Do they have to commit theft? Do they really have to possess and deal drugs? Are these the laws that they have to break? Do they have to regularly be in contempt of court? Do they have to coerce workers? Do they have to obstruct legitimate work on construction sites? Do they have to commit trespass? Are these the laws that, by Labor policy, union officials have to break? This is a valid question I think: do union officials at the CFMEU have to put up on Facebook what they call 'scab sheets', which identify Public Service investigators, including putting up their personal details so that female staff members are rung at home, at night, and abused? Is that what union officials have to do?

Mr Speaker, do union officials have to stop people from going to work in their crane company, where they work hard every day, by spitting on them, by calling them scabs and dogs, and then later by uploading pictures and footage they have taken of those hardworking men and women onto the CFMEU Facebook page, where, after having been personally abused and spat on, they are subject to further online abuse and intimidation? Is that now, by Labor policy stated by Glenn Sterle, what union officials have to do? (Time expired)