'Beyond a joke' Labor won't ensure PTSD protections: MP

Independent senators are trying a parliamentary tactic last successful 90 years ago to give first responders PTSD protections and end domestic violence discrimination in the workplace.

Senators Jacqui Lambie and David Pocock took four elements of Labor’s larger workplace law reform bill and it passed the Senate against the government’s wishes.

Labor has vehemently fought against bringing on only parts of the reforms, with the wider reforms also closing work hire loopholes and giving gig workers more protections.

An emotional Senator Lambie chastised Employment Minister Tony Burke for not passing the four pieces of the government’s legislation in the lower house.

'beyond a joke' labor won't ensure ptsd protections: mp

Tony Burke is pushing ahead with passing amendments to the wider workplace reform bill. (Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS)

One of the amendments means emergency workers can get easier access to compensation to address post-traumatic stress disorder and a second protects people facing domestic and family violence from discrimination at work.

“We want these protections in place by Christmas and there was not one damn reason why they shouldn’t be,” Senator Lambie told parliament on Tuesday.

The government was using the four non-contentious measures to hold the crossbench hostage to pass the rest of the legislation, which the opposition and business groups do not support, she said.

“We’re about to come into a fire season, we’re going to be heavily relying on first responders,” Senator Lambie said.

“You don’t want to give them some relief before Christmas time so they can stop fighting a bureaucratic system that … not only destroys you as a person, but destroy your family and those around you.

“This is beyond a joke and you should be ashamed of yourself.”

The two senators pushed for a “conference” between the two houses of parliament, which was last attempted in 1950 and hasn’t been successful since 1932.

A conference brings together delegates from the Senate and House of Representatives to help reach an agreement.

The motion passed the Senate 32 votes to 30, with the coalition and crossbench in support and government and Greens against.

Mr Burke is pushing ahead with passing amendments to the wider bill in the lower house, despite it not being able to pass the Senate until at least February because a committee is examining it.

The four independent amendments are able to pass the house and come into effect on January 1.

Finance Minister Katy Gallagher called the move a stunt and chastised the opposition for supporting it after attacking their industrial relations policies while in government.

The Greens have secured amendments to three parts of the government’s broader workplace bill.

The changes will mean theft of superannuation is classified the same way as wage theft, along with closing loopholes to ensure teachers and lecturers can’t be considered as carrying out seasonal work.

Amendments will also close loopholes to make sure employers can’t delay negotiations for enterprise agreements in a bid to get to arbitration.

Greens employment spokeswoman Barbara Pocock said the changes would improve conditions for workers.

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