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, 16 March 2016
Page: 2139


Senator SESELJA (Australian Capital Territory) (16:18): I would like to speak to the question re the budget, because I think it is important that we talk about budget strategy, about controlling spending and growing the economy, because that is what the coalition believe in. We have done that in all sorts of ways. We have done it through getting rid of the carbon tax and the mining tax and through small-business tax cuts, instant asset write-off, red-tape reduction, free trade agreements, the TPP and, of course, things like the ABCC, which is about productivity, about growing the economy. The best way to get the budget under control, to cut people's taxes, is to grow the economy and to control your spending. The ABCC is a key measure in that fight. It is a key productivity measure.

Today we read about an alternative approach that is anti-productivity, that goes in completely the opposite direction. What I refer to is the dodgy deal between the ACT Labor government and UnionsACT—unions such as the CFMEU—and the institutionalised corruption that goes with that.

Senator McEwen: Madam Acting Deputy President, I rise on a point of order. The question that Senator Wong asked of Senator Cormann was about whether the federal budget would be delivered on 10 May and/or whether the Turnbull government's tax policy would be announced on 10 May. I have not heard the senator address the answers to either of those questions.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT ( Senator O'Neill ): Senator Seselja, I ask you to be mindful of the nature of the question that was asked and to stay close to that topic if you can.

Senator SESELJA: I am, and I made very clear the chain—because getting the CFMEU and that lawlessness under control is a productivity measure that grows the economy and helps us get the budget under control. That is a big part of our budgetary strategy. The Labor Party do not want to hear about this, but the kind of institutionalised corruption that we read about today needs an airing.

We have seen the alternative approach, and it goes like this. This is a veto deal for the unions in the ACT—unions like the CFMEU—over procurement by the ACT government. We know from the trade union royal commission that the CFMEU targets some companies, particularly those without an EBA. We have seen the cases of Boral and so many others. We have seen the standover tactics here in Canberra and around the country. Under this agreement with the likes of the CFMEU, the CFMEU, who have that history of standover tactics and corruption, get a list of the tenderers. It gets worse. We have got a union who have a pattern of criminal and unlawful behaviour. Further than that, they control the preselections of ministers and the Chief Minister who signed this agreement.

Senator McEwen: Madam Acting Deputy President, on a point of order: I would ask you to bring the senator back to the motion before the chair, which is to take note of the answers given by Senator Cormann to the questions asked by Senator Wong—that was, 'Will the federal budget be delivered on 10 May?' and 'When will the Turnbull government's tax policy be announced?' There was nothing in the answer to that question about trade unions at all. I ask you to bring the senator back to the motion before the chair.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT ( Senator O'Neill ): Senator Seselja, can I encourage you to hear the words that were in the question and if you can confine your remarks to that, that would be helpful.

Senator SESELJA: I absolutely am. I will respond to the point of order.

Opposition senators interjecting

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Please take your seat, Senator Seselja. I have ruled on the point of order. This is a second point of order. Senator McEwen.

Senator McEwen: Madam Acting Deputy President, on a point of order: Senator Seselja's response then or his continuation of this motion to take note of answers is directly defying your ruling of requiring him to return to the motion before the chair. I ask you again to return him to the motion before the chair.

Senator Seselja: Madam Acting Deputy President, on a point of order: this is now a tactic, because they do not want to hear about the corruption in the union movement.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: That is not a point of order, Senator Seselja.

Senator Seselja: No, it is. I am responding to the point of order.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Seselja, that is not a point of order.

Senator Seselja: It is a tactic.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: It is a debating point.

Senator Seselja: I will respond to the point of order. I made it very clear.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Seselja, it is not about making a point. It is not about debating the chair.

Senator Seselja: I am trying to respond and I am being interjected on. If I could respond to the point of order—

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: This is a question of relevance that has been ruled on.

Senator SESELJA: I will put to you a couple of points. We often have wide-ranging debate in these motions to take note. I would make the second point that, in addressing questions of budgetary matters, I am entitled to refer to productivity, growing the economy and union corruption, which affect that. And our efforts to clean that up are directly relevant to our efforts to grow the economy and bring the budget back into surplus.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: That was a fine debating point, but I have ruled on the point of order by Senator McEwen. I would ask you to confine your remarks in a way that is somewhat resembling the nature of the question that was asked, because you are ranging very far and wide. I will give you the call and I ask you to respond appropriately.

Senator SESELJA: I thank for your ruling, because I can understand why the Labor Party do not want to hear about this. We believe that productivity is important for getting the budget under control. When you see measures that undermine productivity, as we see in the ACT now with this deal between the Labor Party and CFMEU, we think it needs to be addressed. Do you know what happens if you address it? If you do not allow the stand-over merchants in the CFMEU to rule the roost, do you know what happens? You get better productivity in the building industry. You know what happens then? You get better economic growth. You grow the economy. What part of growing the economy is not relevant?

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Seselja, resume your seat.

Senator Carol Brown: Madam Acting Deputy President, on a point of order: he is nowhere near the question before the chair. He is deliberately ignoring your request to do so. I know they do not have much of a tax policy, and I know he probably does not want to talk about it, but he should try to state—

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Brown, you are now engaging in debate, so please resume your seat. Senator Seselja, that was a debating point not a point of order. Senator Seseslja, you are responding to the answer that was given by the minister in response to the question. Please contain your remarks that are close to both the question and the answer. You have the call, Senator Seselja.

Senator SESELJA: Which is exactly what I am doing, because we believe, in order to get the budget under control, you have to grow the economy. There are all sorts of handbrakes on the economy and one of them is union corruption. We are prepared to stand up against it. The Labor Party prefers to do deals with those who engage in it. They take money from them; they owe their preselections to them and now they outsource procurement to them here in the ACT. We have the very person who has pleaded guilty for blackmail here in the ACT, who is part of the CFMEU, and who is the sub-branch president of the Labor Party here in Canberra. The conflict of interest and the potential for corruption, when you give him a list of potential contractors, undermines confidence. People in the building industry who see this type of corruption and the turning of a blind eye by the ACT Labor Party is something we see around the country unfortunately. We heard today that these kinds of deals are not unique to the ACT. If you want to grow the economy and the Labor Party is interested in it, I will give you a tip: do not do deals like ACT Labor has done with unions ACT; do not sell out to corrupt unions; and do not give corrupt unionists and stand-over merchants a veto power over your procurement in the ACT or anywhere else. (Time expired)