18/08/2015 8:38 AM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:50 PM AEST

Early Election Trigger: Union Busting Bill Defeated

Asanka Brendon Ratnayake via Getty Images
Polling booth

CANBERRA -- The Abbott Government has another double dissolution election trigger in its arsenal after the Senate last night narrowly rejected, for a second time, a rort busting bill aimed at unions.

Senators Jacqui Lambie, Glenn Lazarus and Ricky Muir teamed up with Labor and the Greens to defeat the Government’s Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Amendment Bill 34-33.

The legislation would have restored the powers of the Australian Building and Construction Commission, imposing the disclosure and transparency obligations of company directors on union officials.

Employment Minister, Eric Abetz, says the bill, which was earlier defeated in July, was an election commitment to clean up the misuse of union member funds.

“Why should a corrupt union official who has ripped off hundreds of thousands of dollars from a union only be liable for a fine of $10,800 when, for the same corrupt conduct, a company director would be liable for five years imprisonment or a fine of $360,000?” Abetz said.

“What is the material difference, what is the moral difference?”

The Government now has the option of calling a double dissolution election based on trade union corruption.

But the Assistant Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, has told the ABC such a move is unlikely.

"We have got some good runs on the board when it comes to getting through the Senate, but obviously last night we saw an important bill defeated in the Senate but that doesn't mean it's bad policy, it's good policy."

An earlier election trigger emerged last year when the Senate defeated the Government’s second attempt to abolish the Climate Energy Finance Corporation.