Fact sheet

Fact Check: Is the CFMMEU the most unlawful organisation in the history of Australia's industrial laws, as Christian Porter says?

Liberal Party of Australia Trade unions Industrial relations

As the Federal Government seeks support for tougher union penalties under its proposed Ensuring Integrity Bill, Attorney-General Christian Porter has repeatedly criticised the Construction Forestry Maritime Mining and Energy Union, or CFMMEU, labelling it the most "unlawful" union in history. Mr Porter's claim doesn't check out. While the CFMMEU has repeatedly and deliberately breached legislation governing industrial action and conduct in the workplace, chalking up more breaches and more fines than any other union in the past 25 years, historical records show that its unlawful behaviour is exceeded by that of other unions in earlier decades. It is clear from Mr Porter's reference in Parliament to the 1986 deregistration of the Builders' Labourers Federation that his claim about the CFMMEU is intended to encompass all union conduct, including that occurring before 1993-94 when the Industrial Relations Reform Act 1993 ushered in the modern industrial relations period. In drawing the timeline back before 1993, though, Mr Porter does not take into account that all forms of industrial action in Australia were considered unlawful under federal and state laws and at common law. The unlawfulness of the BLF's relentless industry-wide intimidation, violence, extortion, sabotage and financially-damaging stoppages, as well as its flagrant contempt of the courts, is widely documented, and clearly surpasses the actions of the CFMMEU.
Verdict: Doesn't check out

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