(Australian Associated Press)
The Morrison government insists its crackdown on union misconduct and review of Australia’s industrial laws will make the economy stronger, despite union warnings about workers’ rights.
The coalition will make its crackdown on unions a priority with its Ensuring Integrity Bill, when MPs return to Canberra later this month.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the legislation, which will also put a public interest test on union mergers, was the government’s industrial relations focus.
“Those officials and those unions that break the law repeatedly, we want to see them face the full consequences of that because that’s not good for the economy,” he told Sky News on Tuesday.
“That’s also not good for the reputation of the construction centre.”
The government is in talks with crossbench senators, who have the power to make or break the bill’s success.
An initial version of the legislation was first introduced to parliament in 2017, before being shelved last year when the coalition failed to win crossbench support in the Senate.
Under the measures, unions could be more easily de-registered and officials banned from heading up registered organisations.
Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter has also embarked on a review of workplace laws looking at issues including unfair dismissal and casual employment.
Mr Frydenberg is adamant any changes would have to protect workers’ entitlements, be evidence-based and make Australia’s economy stronger.
But Labor leader Anthony Albanese believes the government should focus on addressing sluggish wages growth.
Unions want the coalition to address insecure work, after new Australian Bureau of Statistics figures showed more than one million Australians would like more hours.
“It’s an indication of a larger imbalance between the power of employers and workers,” ACTU secretary Sally McManus said.