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Monday, 19 March 2012
Page: 3258

Member for Dobell


Ms LEY (Farrer) (14:46): My question is to the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations. I refer to the Fair Work Australia report into the activities of Victoria No.1 branch of the Health Services Union. With the members of the HSU themselves calling for action, has the minister referred the findings of this report to the Australian Taxation Office for further investigation?


Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongMinister for Financial Services and Superannuation and Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations) (14:46): I thank the member for Farrer for her question and I note that 42½ thousand of her voters are going to get an increase in superannuation if we get our laws through tonight.

The SPEAKER: The minister will become directly relevant or the call will be withdrawn. The minister is given the call to answer the question.

Mr SHORTEN: We welcome the conclusion of the Fair Work Australia investigation. The general manager's referral of the matter to the Australian Government Solicitor we also welcome. In terms of the question about my powers to refer matters, the opposition has, at every stage of this investigation by Fair Work Australia, demanded that we interfere. At the same time, they have also said that we have interfered with this matter, but we did not.

Mr Pyne: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: the minister was asked a very straightforward question on behalf of the members of the HSU. That question was whether he has referred the now published report of Fair Work Australia into Victoria No.1 branch to the Australian Taxation Office. That is a very simple question.

The SPEAKER: I do draw the substance of the question to the attention of the minister and I ask him to answer it.

Mr SHORTEN: The question goes to the referral of this report to the Australian Taxation Office. We are certainly reading the report. We are going through it and we are certainly drawing it to the attention of the regulatory authorities to which we can. But let us go further here. On this question and the issues around it about the HSU, the opposition has, at every stage, tried to pre-empt the process of investigation.

The SPEAKER: The minister will return to the substance of the question.

Mr SHORTEN: It is under this government and our act that this investigation on the HSU Victoria No. 1 branch has been concluded. The general manager is in the process of concluding the rest of the report.









Mr PYNE (SturtManager of Opposition Business) (14:48): Mr Speaker, I ask a supplementary question. It arises from the answer given by the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and it is simply: when does he believe he will have completed his reading of the report?


Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongMinister for Financial Services and Superannuation and Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations) (14:49): There is no question that the report is an important one. That is why we have—

Opposition members interjecting

Mr SHORTEN: You guys wanted it and wanted it. Now we have it. We have completed the analysis of it and what we do know is—

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! The minister will be heard entirely in silence for the balance of his answer.

Mr SHORTEN: The report is clearly important and it has been referred to the Australian Government Solicitor for further action. As much as those opposite would like us to give a running commentary on the activities of either the independent regulator or on further proceedings which might be the subject of court action, this side of the House is not going to fall into the trap of being baited into a debate when there is in fact a process already underway.