Crossbench dismisses idea Coalition may deregister CFMEU
Australian trade unions Crossbench dismisses idea Coalition may deregister CFMEU
Independent Bob Katter says any move on construction union could âsmashâ unionism in Australia
Crossbench MPs and senators have dismissed the Coalitionâs suggestion it could move to deregister the construction union, warning it would be a precedent to âsmash trade unionismâ in Australia and is inconsistent with the governmentâs treatment of law-breaking banks.
The prime minister, Scott Morrison, s aid he would consider legislation to deregister the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) after the Victorian secretary, John Setka, tweeted a photo of his children holding a sign telling the construction regulator to âgo get fu#kedâ.
The industrial relations minister, Kelly OâDwyer, clarified the push was not motivated by âone tweetâ but rather instances of âthuggery and lawlessness on building sites right across the countryâ.Scott Morrison to consider deregistering construction union after Father's Day tweet Read more
The construction division of the union has accrued $16m worth of fines and has 75 officials before the courts for industrial law breaches, she told ABCâs 7:30.
The independent MP Bob Katter â" who is a member of the mining division â" told Guardian Australia that Morrison âhas got to be bigger than thisâ.
Katter said Setkaâs children were âsupporting their father on Fatherâs Dayâ by speaking up against the Australian Building and Construction Commission, which was âtrying to put people in jailâ for unprotected industrial action on work safety.
âIf they can smash the CFMEU theyâll smash trade unionism in this country and weâll be working for nothing,â he said.
âIâm not saying the CFMEU are angels ... there was a history of gangsterism [in the construction division] ... a really bad history.
âBut the construction division got rid of all that criminality â" and now [its opponents] define âcriminalityâ as unionsâ normal operating procedures.â
Centre Alliance MP Rebekha Sharkie said although the tweet was âvulgarâ, Morrison needed to provide âa clearer explanationâ as to why he wanted to deregister the union.
Sharkie questioned why unions were threatened with penalties such as deregistration when ânobody decided to deregister the Commonwealth Bankâ for breaches of law unc overed at the banking royal commission.
âWeâve support a number of measures on union corruption, but we canât have one law for unions and another for every other kind of organisation,â she said.
The government already has a bill before the Senate that would allow courts to disqualify union officials and deregister unions for repeated breaches of industrial laws, which was promised in the wake of the Heydon trade union royal commission.
Although that bill passed the lower house with the crossbench all opposed, Liberal Democrat senator David Leyonhjelm said in the Senate the bill had sat in abeyance because the government lacked the numbers to pass it under former employment ministers Michaelia Cash and Craig Laundy.
Leyonhjelm said he had told the government he could support the Fair Work Registered Organisations (Ensuring Integrity) bill with amendments to improve the public interest test for approval of union amalgamations.
But Leyonhjelm dismissed the idea of deregistering the CFMEU. He noted that âthereâs an election comingâ, arguing Morrison had floated the idea as a piece of campaign rhetoric but it was questionable the Senate would support it.
âI donât see how he could implement it ... The CFMEU are the most unloved union; if the government were going to succeed that would be the most likely place it would, but â" even then â" I wouldnât put money on it.â
The shadow workplace relations minister, Brendan OâConnor, told Sky News that deregistering the CFMEU was âdesperate and an overreach by the prime ministerâ in response to an âunacceptable tweetâ for which Setka has apologised.
Deregistration would âremove all industrial protection for timber workers, clothing workers, construction workers and maritime workersâ, he said.
On Tuesday, Morrison was asked why he had suggested the CFMEU should be deregistered when even the trade union royal commission had not called for that.
Morrison told reporters he is âtaking adviceâ and working with OâDwyer but he would ânot shy away from these issuesâ.
âBill Shorten puts militant unions first, and he had to be dragged, kicking and screaming, to give him a slight tap with a wet newspaper,â he said.
âTheyâre not sure about him, because he canât be fair dinkum with them about the relationship that he has with John Setka. I mean, theyâre too close. Theyâre just too close, and people in Australia know that.â
On Monday, the unionâs national construction secretary, Dave Noonan, said he was not surprised the government had resurrected the CFMEU âbogeymanâ to scare voters.
âWhen the Liberal party is focused on good old-fashioned union-bashing, you know theyâre in trouble,â he said.
âAny attempt to deregister the union will be vigorously resisted.âTopics
- Australian trade unions
- Const ruction industry
- Australian politics
- Bob Katter
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