House debates

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Questions without Notice

Workplace Relations

2:58 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's resilient approach to industrial relations is tackling law-breaking, militant unions, particularly in our building and construction sector? Is the minister aware of any alternative approaches?

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

I thank the member for Goldstein for his question. It is the case that the government today reintroduced the ensuring integrity bill, which seeks to place higher and more reasonable standards on registered organisations. The reason we did that is that, as a government, we will not stand by while a small but dangerous group of militant officials continue to break laws which are designed to protect men and women who just want to do their jobs. As a government, we will not stand by and watch the cost of vital infrastructure projects like schools, roads and hospitals increase by 30 per cent because of the militant activity of a small group of union officials.

In fact, today in this place the Labor Party tried to delay even debating the reintroduced ensuring integrity bill until July 2022. They sought to achieve a 2½-year delay before we would even talk about the issue. If we look at the current rate of offending, that would mean we'd be looking at over 400 more contraventions of industrial laws by the CFMMEU alone before, under Labor's standards, we even got to talk about the problem. And that is not even counting what will, no doubt, be the future breaches of criminal offences. Four hundred more! How many more workers do you say it's okay to be labelled 'scabs' or 'dogs', or bullied or threatened or intimidated, before we get to deal with this problem?

If I can focus on one very important provision in this bill, and that is proposed section 226(3) of the introduced ensuring integrity bill, which would make it an offence—and prevent it from happening—where a union officer has been disqualified but simply goes on for all intents and purposes acting as a union official. At the moment there is nothing that makes that situation unlawful—that is, working as a shadow officer. And some people, I think, would be very, very pleased with not even getting to talk about that type of provision for 2½ years. The reason being that there have been many people that have come out of jail and have been welcomed back with open arms into the union movement into the position of officials—into positions working for all intents and purposes as officials. It is a very common occurrence. John Setka and Craig Johnston were the two men who organised a run through by balaclava-wearing union officials which terrorised workers, men and women, including a pregnant woman. Mr Johnston served nine months in prison, and the trade union support committee reportedly issued a statement that said, 'We will be waiting there at the gates when he comes out.' And there is no law presently available to stop that person acting as a shadow official. In fact, July 2022 would be a very convenient date for one Dave Hanna, who's been found guilty of many things—not least of which, recently, was rape—because that would allow him to serve the bulk of his non-parole period, if there's no debate until July 2022— (Time expired)