Tasmanian independent Jacqui Lambie has challenged the government to deregister the construction union, just like Bob Hawke did with the Builders Labourers Federation.

But Employment Minister Eric Abetz says that was only possible because Mr Hawke led a responsible Labor government supported by a responsible coalition opposition.

Senator Lambie used parliament’s question time on Tuesday to accuse the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union of ignoring the law despite court-imposed penalties.

The CFMEU leadership was involved in a wide range of serious criminal activities and associated with “outlaw bikie gangs, killers and underworld figures”.

Why hasn’t the government which had been in office for two years deregistered the CFMEU just as the Hawke government did in 1986, Senator Lambie asked.

The BLF was deregistered at the federal level and in most states in 1986 following a royal commission into union corruption.

Its federal secretary Norm Gallagher was jailed.

Building workers are now represented by the CFMEU.

Senator Abetz said it was a toss of a coin to choose between the BLF and CFMEU.

“The situation was that in the Hawke era you had a responsible Labor leadership supported by a responsible opposition – there was unanimous support in the parliament,” he said.

In that time a “proud union movement and a proud Labor leader were willing to call corruption as corruption, thuggery as thuggery”.

“I would be very interested to see if there would be support for that,” Senator Abetz said.

  • There is no issue if we consider sanctions against the unions. But we must be fair, reasonable and apportion blame to all the wrongdoers – on both sides and to all parties, business as well as unions.

    Clearly the unions and ALP have been out of line at times, but we must also take into account how the Liberal party has attracted a large support base from big/medium business, legislating to support these groups. And causing enormous harm to all the ordinary folk.

    In fact, both major parties have ignored the people, their views and the fact that this middle group of workers, the middle income earners are the taxpayers who pay and support the country. To continue to deny that they exist, to exclude them, to discount their needs and views will prove to be the downfall of all Governments that think the ordinary, the average, the payers of all tax are idiots. They are not. They are wide awake. They are fed up. They are approaching breaking point and will burst out very soon. If I was a pollie, I would wake up now.

    The Australian people are truly over you guys; soon you will be forced to realize same, sooner rather than later. The message is simple; listen and act – or you're extinct.

    • What an absolute load of bollocks! I never thought that I would find myself in agreement with Jacqui Lambie, but in this matter she is 100% correct.

      Thugs, criminals, bikies, drug dealers, stand-over merchants and thieves are all composite parts of this criminal CFMEU union organisation.

      The Labor opposition needs these people onside to achieve its political aim of gaining power by achieving government.

      God help us if the Labor Party, that which wrecked our financial position by squandering John Howard's legacy, gets to power backed by groups such as the CFMEU!

      The Vlad laws in Queensland that were protecting Queenslanders against bikies who were running riot, racketeering and selling ice as well as other drugs. The "Palace Chook" Labor government is dismantling these laws and allowing bikies to get up and operate yet again.

      At the end of the day, the Coalitions problems lie with the unequal sharing of blessings and attempting to have Australia maintain the moral high ground whilst the Labor Party along with the Greens and other Lefties simply offers a dream that results in the equal sharing of misery.

      WHY? Because Labor have no real idea, waste money and wreck budgets.