"Go on. You stand up next during the debate and have the guts to actually put something on the record."

'Utter disgrace': Penny Wong blows up

OVER in the Senate, Mathias Cormann has moved to bring on debate on amendments to the Ensuring Integrity Bill - that's the one cracking down on unions.

That should allow the government to pass the bill this afternoon.

Labor's Senate leader, Penny Wong, is not happy. She delivered a fiery speech in response to the move, mocking the government for talking about integrity while defending Angus Taylor.

"You want to come in here and ask the crossbench to ram through legislation that you say is about ensuring integrity," said Ms Wong.

"Senator Cormann says his bill is critically important. You know what's critically important? That you find some integrity over there. You know what's critically important? That the Prime Minister finds some integrity.

"I mean, seriously. This bill is not about integrity. This bill is about an attack on working people and their representatives.

"You're pushing through this bill with your own integrity in tatters.

"There has never been a government with less integrity than you lot.

"It's an utter disgrace."

There was a particularly explosive moment when she reacted to an interjection from government Senator Gerard Rennick.

"Tell us what you think, Gerard. Stand up, Senator Rennick. You're always very tough on the backbench, why don't you stand up and tell us what you really think about working people and trade unions?" Ms Wong yelled at him.

"Go on. You stand up next during the debate and have the guts to actually put something on the record."

If you're picking up on a sense of frustration from Labor, it's because the bill is almost certainly going to pass.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne spoke immediately after Ms Wong and presented the government's side of the debate.

"I didn't expect anything better from those opposite and I wasn't disappointed," said Ms Payne.

She said the Senate had enjoyed plenty of time to consider the bill.

"It was introduced into the parliament in July. It's been the subject of multiple inquiries. And it has been the subject of intensive and extensive debate in this chamber," she said.

"What are those opposite afraid of? Are they afraid of recognising the fact that registered associations in this country, both employers and unions, have a privileged position in the industrial relations system, and they should be accountable?

"Are they afraid of making accountable people who breach the trust that they hold in leading registered organisations, breach the trust of their members?

"Are they afraid of those who exercise their own interests ahead of their members' interests being held to account?

"Because you could be forgiven for thinking that.

"They are oblivious to the impact these organisations have on workers, they are oblivious to the impact these organisations have on the economy."


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