Queensland Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie.

Queensland Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie. Photo: Glenn Hunt

The $7 million losses caused by delays in the construction of Brisbane's new Children's Hospital at South Brisbane will be investigated by the proposed royal commission into unions, Queensland's Attorney General Jarrod Bleijie said on Sunday.

When the Children's Hospital industrial dispute was broken by Fairfax Media on August 6, 2012, the industrial argument was costing developer Abigroup an estimated $100,000 a day.

The dispute - over subcontractors being underpaid - lasted well into September 2012, before the Queensland Government stepped in.

On Sunday Mr Bleijie said he had spoken with Senator Brandis about the terms of reference for the royal commission being broad enough to look at the Children's Hospital dispute.

"Just on the Children's Hospital site alone, we have had over $7 million that the taxpayer of Queensland lost just in terms of unlawful work stoppages," Mr Bleijie said.

"So if this royal commission uncovers all these operations and makes sure this type of activity doesn't happen in Queensland again, well that's a good thing."

Abigroup, eventually bought out by Lend Lease, is now taking Federal Court action in Brisbane to recover $6.5 million from the CFMEU for unlawful industrial action at the hospital.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Federal Attorney General George Brandis will on Monday outline the details of a 12-month inquiry into union behaviour.

It will have the power to compel unions to give evidence into corruption.

It is understood the terms of reference will investigate bribes, secret commissions, corruption and slush funds.

Mr Bleijie said it was time to investigate aspects of industrial action in Queensland.

"What I think is of particular interest in unlawful industral disputation in Queensland," he said.

"And I think the time has come for the unions to shine the light into their organisations.

"We have lost millions of dollars on unlawful industrial disputations on Queeensland building sites."

Mr Bleijie said he had spoken with Senator Brandis about the terms of reference for the royal commission being broad enough to look at the Children's Hospital dispute.

"Just on the Children's Hospital site alone we have had over $7 million that the taxpayer of Queensland lost just in terms of unlawful work stoppages," he said.

"So if this royal commission uncovers all these operations and makes sure this type of activity doesn't happen in Queensland again, well that's a good thing."

Other allegations of "off the book payments" are also to be investigated.

The inquiry will be headed by former High Court justice John Dyson Heydon.

Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten agreed criminal activities should be investigted, however he criticised the government's plans for a royal commission.

He said a royal commission into unions was a political stunt that would cost $100 million.

"This is a job for police, not politicians," Mr Shorten said.

"The politicians should get out of the way and let the police get on and do their job."

Mr Shorten said he believed if the federal government wanted to look at problems on construction sites, employers as well as unions should be examined.

"The government just wants to say that if there is any problems in building and construction, it's a union issue," Mr Shorten said.

ACTU president Ged Kearney dubbed the commission an expensive "witch-hunt", and said it was police who should probe union corruption.

The Greens also said police should investigate the allegations.

"The Australian people will see (a royal commission) for what it is, the first step in the government's assault on wages and conditions," Greens deputy leader Adam Bandt said.