Labor slams union-busting bill 'hypocrisy'
Labor has focused on a double standard with the corporate sector as it fights to defeat laws cracking down on unions and their officials.Opposition Senator Tim Ayres is the latest to seize on a money laundering scandal engulfing the Westpac board, accusing the government of unfairly targeting trade unions and their officials.
Senior government figures have been left reeling after a shock vote harpooned their signature laws, aimed at cracking down on unions.
The Coalition had all but banked a victory but ended the day trying to figure out what went wrong, as Labor senators celebrated into the night at Parliament House.
One Nation and independent Jacqui Lambie denied the Government the votes it needed to get its Ensuring Integrity Bill through the Senate.
The vote has One Nation leader Pauline Hanson facing accusations she told the Government's senior leaders one thing but acted another way.
'Union busting' bill will 'save the taxpayer a lot of money'
Liberal Senator Eric Abetz says the government’s proposed Ensuring Integrity Bill, if passed, will “get rid of the rip offs, the rorts and the rackets that are costing the taxpayer a lot of money”. The Coalition is confident its 'union busting' bill - set to make it easier to de-register law-breaking unions and officials - will pass through upper house with the support of the Centre Alliance and One Nation. Senator Abetz said the bill would “put downward pressure on housing and on civil construction works”. “Everyone will be a winner and law and order will be restored,” he said.
The Coalition insists Senator Hanson repeatedly guaranteed she would support its crackdown on unions — a claim she denies.
There were gasps and cheers from the Opposition benches, while senior Senate Coalition leaders Mathias Cormann and Anne Ruston were left visibly shocked.
Adding to the surprise was that Senator Hanson, who had initially indicated she would support the bill, had repeatedly voted with the Government as the Senate considered amendments to the proposed laws.
That was until the final vote when she crossed the floor and delivered the fatal blow.
Multiple sources have pointed to potential ramifications for One Nation's vote, but they concede there is little the Coalition can do in response because it needs crossbench support to pass its legislative agenda.
Federal Government's crackdown on unions rejected by Senate after One Nation sides with Opposition
Pauline Hanson and Jacqui Lambie have joined forces to deliver a shock defeat of the Government's signature union crackdown legislation. The Government failed to gain support of crossbenchers to pass its so-called ensuring integrity bill, which Labor had dubbed "union busting" legislation. The changes would have allowed for applications to be made to the Federal Court to deregister a union or union official if conduct was deemed inappropriate. The Government said it was crucial to ensure unions were accountable for their actions, while Labor criticised it as an attack on the union movement.
It has even prompted calls for Coalition leaders to seek written agreements from One Nation to hold the party to account for its commitments.
Some sources have suggested One Nation has been biding its time awaiting to exact political revenge on the Coalition since Prime Minister Scott Morrison insisted his party put Senator Hanson's party behind Labor on how-to-vote cards in the May federal election.
Senator Hanson has rejected that.
She said she decided not to support the bill because it would have allowed company administrators to unleash unlimited power on unions if they were brought in to wind them up.
And she defended her decision to keep the Coalition in the dark.
"I don't have to tell the government which way I'm voting, never did," she said.
Government agenda takes an unexpected turn
The Government started the week with two pieces of legislation it wanted delivered during the final sitting fortnight of the year.
Federal Government's crackdown on unions rejected by Senate after One Nation sides with Opposition
Pauline Hanson and Jacqui Lambie join forces to deliver a shock defeat of the Government's signature union crackdown legislation. The Government failed to gain the support of crossbenchers to pass its so-called ensuring integrity bill, which Labor had dubbed "union busting" legislation. © Provided by ABC News Pauline Hanson voted with the Opposition, Jacqui Lambie and the Greens to defeat the bill. (ABC News: Luke Stephenson) The result prompted an immediate rebuke of Senator Hanson from the Government, which believed it had One Nation's support.
Senior leaders had factored in a possible loss on its bid to repeal the so-called medevac legislation but wanted to bring on a vote so it could say it had tried to do so.
That legislation is now slated for next week and it remains unclear what Senator Lambie, who holds the crucial vote, will do.
The Coalition was more confident on its union proposals. The failure to deliver that has given Labor a victory its ranks have long been seeking since May's shock election loss.
Coalition sources the ABC has spoken with said Senator Lambie had largely been left out of negotiations, with the focus on Centre Alliance and One Nation expected to deliver the votes.
Centre Alliance reached an agreement with the Coalition on a series of amendments, and offered its support in return.
"They had the chance to [support my amendments]," Senator Lambie said after the vote.
"But they didn't because they were too cocky that they'd get their win without me. Well, guess what. Look where that gets you."
Coalition to reintroduce its union crackdown measures
The Government has vowed to reintroduce the bill, which Labor has dubbed "union busting laws", but will have to win over either Senator Hanson or Senator Lambie to win a vote in the Senate.
Coalition shock loss on union-busting bill
The Morrison government's union-busting legislation has been defeated in the Senate after One Nation spectacularly opposed it at the final vote.Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton believes Pauline Hanson's supporters will be 'startled' after the One Nation leader handed the government a humiliating loss over its bill to make deregistering unions and banning officials easier.
However, Liberal senator Eric Abetz questioned whether Senator Hanson could be trusted.
"It was an absolute disappointment, One Nation traded with us in a manner that was not fair dinkum, it did not show any integrity, nor did it show honesty," he said.
"Once you've done a deal, shaken hands, believe you have an understanding, to have someone renege on that without any prior warning whatsoever is not the standard you'd expect anywhere — least of all the Parliament."
There's widespread speculation among senators across the political divide that Senator Hanson wanted to send a message to the Government that it couldn't take her support on votes for granted.
Labor sources the ABC has spoken with said very few of the party's senators knew how Senator Hanson would ultimately vote.
Some said they were optimistic but thought it would be an outside chance One Nation would vote with Labor.
Senator Kim Carr said it was a "remarkable day for the Labor movement and working people".
"Everyone is shocked, they were dreading the prospect of what this bill meant for wages and conditions and living standards," Senator Carr said.
"I am delighted," Don Farrell added.
"Unions can now get back to doing their job of representing working people without the prospect of this draconian legislation," he said.
One Nation sided with 'CFMMEU thugs' by voting down union-busting bill: Porter
By voting down the Ensuring Integrity Bill, One Nation has sided with CFMMEU "thugs" over hard-working Australians, according to Attorney-General Christian Porter. On Thursday, One Nation sided with the Greens and Labor against the bill, ensuring it would not pass parliament.Senator Hanson told Sky News on Friday she did not vote for the government’s bill to crack down on unions because it needed to shift its focus to white collar crime.“I want the government to address white collar crime. Don’t go after the unions if you’re not going to deal with the banks,” Senator Hanson said.
Some in Labor are wary Senator Hanson might change her mind if the bill is brought back.
A senior ALP figure said Labor had done the numbers better, while the government had taken them for granted.
New South Wales Labor backbencher Tony Sheldon, a former union official, said the credit deserved to go to the workers who had lobbied the crossbenchers to reject the Government's proposal.
"It was one of those moments were a lot of us were absolutely excited to see both Jacqui Lambie and Pauline Hanson listen to hard working Australians, and stood-up with the rest of us," he said.
Pressure on One Nation to back the bill when it returns
Queensland LNP senator Gerrard Rennick said One Nation had damaged its relationship with the Government in the short-term.
"I was extremely disappointed, but not surprised," he said.
"Pauline's flip-flopped for the last 20 years."
Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter shortly after the vote released a statement vowing to reintroduce union crackdown laws.
That's welcome news for Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox, who had dubbed yesterday's result a disappointment for employers.
"In the end all this is going to do is embolden unions, embolden bad behaviour by particular unions, and in the end the community will pay," he said.
"It's up to Pauline Hanson and Jacqui Lambie to explain why they voted as they did, but I guess this just proves the political maxim you can only trust those who say no to your face."
'I won't sell my soul': Pauline Hanson swears as she reveals why she refused to back union-busting bill in a move that left Scott Morrison's government reeling .
The Ensuring Integrity union laws would make it easier to deregister law-breaking unions and disqualify officials throughout Australia.The One Nation leader's move last week has left her relationship with the federal government on the rocks.