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‘People are sick of it’: Lambie to halt talks with government over union-busting bill

Attorney-General and Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter has been drafting amendments to the bill, which would make it easier to deregister law-breaking unions and ban officials, to incorporate Senator Lambie’s requested changes and secure her vote in the Senate.

Senator Lambie said she would halt talks with the minister immediately, saying: “I’m going to put a hold on them this morning, I’ll be honest with you. Yeah, I’m done.”

Mr Porter was not ready to give up on her support on Thursday, telling The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age: “The government has had constructive discussions with Senator Lambie around her proposed amendments to the bill and will continue to do so.”

Without the Tasmanian senator’s vote, Mr Porter would need to convince One Nation’s Pauline Hanson – who voted against the bill in the Senate last year after lobbying by the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union – to change her mind.

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One Nation dropped its support for a Senate motion calling for the Gaetjens report’s release on Wednesday, but Senator Hanson has been expected to avoid voting for the union-busting bill while preparing for the Queensland state election in October.

Senator Hanson declined to comment on Thursday.

The government has refused to release Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet secretary Philip Gaetjens’s report on the grants scheme, claiming public interest immunity.

Senator Lambie said she had been receiving “some real blow-back on this over social media and phone calls to my office”.

Mr Morrison has previously said the report “did not find evidence that [the grants] process was unduly influenced by reference to marginal or targeted electorates”.

Nationals senator Bridget McKenzie resigned as deputy leader and agriculture minister after it was revealed the Gaetjens report found she had breached ministerial standards while administering the grants program in her previous role as sports minister by failing to declare she was a member of a gun club to which she gave a $36,000 grant.

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