Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 28 February 2007
Page: 145

Mr HAYES (7:49 PM) —Tonight I rise to address a smear campaign being waged against Unions New South Wales over the sale of the Currawong property on the western foreshore of Pittwater. This campaign is being waged by individuals who have a long track record of campaigning against the union movement and its objectives to get a fair deal for working Australians. These issues were raised in this place; therefore I am going to try to correct the record in this place.

Unions New South Wales’s stated preference was for the unconditional sale of Currawong, and a position clearly outlined in all of the relevant documentation was forwarded to interested parties. The suggestion at the heart of this smear campaign is that Unions New South Wales accepted an offer of $15 million, an amount that was supposedly half that of the top price offered. The alleged top offer of $30 million was conditional on the approval of a development proposal which included 30 house sites, 30 cabins, a 30-berth marina and a small commercial precinct development. If this failed to be approved, the offer price would either be reduced substantially or the offer would lapse.

Given the nature and location of Currawong on the foreshores of Pittwater, there is little doubt that a public campaign would have been waged against any development proposal put forward for the property. Furthermore, had a development application been lodged that saw Unions New South Wales benefit either directly or indirectly, the application and its assessment would have been highly politicised. On the basis that the offer was conditional, which was against the stated preference of Unions New South Wales, the best unconditional offer was accepted. Those who talk about missing millions conveniently ignore these key facts. By removing any financial benefit for the union movement based on a development approval, Unions New South Wales has allowed any proposals for the future use of the Currawong site to be judged on the nature and quality of the proposal alone.

In addition to the alleged ‘missing millions’, allegations have been made against David Tanevski and the role of Kingsway Capital. The theory being touted is that Mr Tanevski screened all offers to the advantage of his business and business associates. Quite frankly, the facts present a radically different story to that. Mr David Tanevski was asked to advise Unions New South Wales on the structure of their sale, given the likelihood that it was going to be a complex transaction. He was engaged because of his relative experience in these matters. He was initially asked to advertise the sale, to field inquiries and to forward information packages prepared by Unions New South Wales lawyers to interested parties. As required by the information packages, expressions of interest were then forwarded to Trust Cox Solicitors, which collated the 15 offers that were received by the closing date. All negotiations were conducted by the officers of Unions New South Wales and their legal representatives.

Given that the allegations put forward in this smear campaign have been presented with such conviction, it is fascinating that no-one has yet been able to find any evidence of how it is that Mr Tanevski’s limited involvement in this matter has done anything other than to maximise the eventual sale price for Currawong. I find it somewhat ironic that the most dogged in this debate in the pursuit of the union movement are those who are now crying loudest about the allegations of short-changing Unions New South Wales over the sale of Currawong. Those crying loudest are the same people who have dedicated themselves to ridding workplaces of unions, to severely curtailing their capacity to support working Australians and to silencing them in the political debate.

The Minister for Health and Ageing, who used questions about the health of Australian workers to bring this campaign before the parliament, is well known for his objection to unions and his desire to see unions driven out of society. The motivation of those involved in this campaign is quite clear: they know that some of the funds from the sale of Currawong will be dedicated to the campaign against the Howard government’s extreme industrial relations laws—a campaign that I know and many opposite know will have a devastating impact on the government come the next election. (Time expired)