The Senate is sitting late into the night to debate the Government’s Registered Organisations Bill, which was one of the bills used to trigger the double dissolution election in July.
Attorney-General George Brandis has moved to suspend standing orders tonight to extend debate until the matter was concluded.
The Government had already made clear it hoped to pass both industrial relations bills through the Senate before the Christmas break. It would need the support of eight crossbenchers to get them across the line.
Crossbenchers Derryn Hinch and Nick Xenophon have both told the chamber they will support the Registered Organisations bill tonight if amendments to protect whistleblowers are passed.
Senator Hinch also hit back at suggestions the bill was aimed at curbing the union movement.
“I don’t see this as an attack on unions,” Senator Hinch said.
“I see it as an effective way to improve the way this sector is governed.
“No-one, no-one, including people within the union movement, wants to see a repeat of the [former HSU boss] Kathy Jackson or [former Labor MP and HSU official] Craig Thomson rorts.” Earlier today, the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he was “quietly confident” the industrial relations bills would pass.