18/04/2016 2:08 PM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST

Unions Launch Major Negative Ad Blitz On Turnbull Government


We might have seen the first major negative ad of election 2016, with unions launching a campaign comparing proposed workplace law changes to drug dealing criminals.

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) unleashed its 'Stand Up Speak Out Come Home' campaign on Sunday night, the evening before the parliament resumed to consider the government's bills to re-establish the Australian Building and Construction Commission. The CFMEU and its members will be the among those most directly affected by the ABCC bills, and the union claims that the legislation would mean workers have fewer legal rights than drug dealers.

"The ABCC has even more power than the police. It can drag workers before secret tribunals, strip them of their right to silence and deny them the right to choose a lawyer. If you refuse to attend a tribunal, you can be jailed for up to six months," the CFMEU said on its website.

"Under this law, ice dealers will have even more rights than construction workers."

The ad is appearing on TV screens, but a more direct form of protest was seen directly outside Parliament House on Monday morning. As government ministers met with truck drivers on one part of the front lawn, hearing their thoughts on other legislation to abolish the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, a much larger gathering of protesters and signs spruiked the message "questions for Malcolm."

The hashtag has taken off online, with many asking questions of the Prime Minister.

The proximity of the competing demonstrations -- one which the government was happy to attend, the other not so much -- made for some interesting photos. Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce met with truckies on the lawn, posting a photo on Twitter with #QuestionsForMalcolm signs visible over his shoulder.