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Thursday, 6 March 2014
Page: 1908

Workplace Relations


Mrs McNAMARA (Dobell) (14:43): My question is to the Minister for Education, representing the Minister for Employment. I remind the minister that the government has proposed a registered organisations commission to provide oversight over registered organisations such as the Health Services Union. What other measures has the government implemented to ensure workers are protected, and what hurdles exist to their implementation?


Mr PYNE (SturtLeader of the House and Minister for Education) (14:44): Madam Speaker, I can assure you I will not be using any props, but I will be tabling a document from TheDaily Telegraph:'From HSU to prison stew'—

Mr Shorten interjecting

The SPEAKER: The Leader of the Opposition will desist.

Mr PYNE: at the end of my answer. I thank the Leader of the Opposition for pointing it out to the House.

This week we were starkly reminded of why we need a registered organisations commission. The Daily Telegraph's front page story of Tuesday, 'From HSU to prison stew', about the former federal president of the Labor Party Michael Williamson's spectacular fall from grace reminded us all of why we needed a registered organisations commission. The government's response to the horrific stories out of the HSU, to the ripping off of workers by dodgy union officials, was to bring forward a registered organisations commission, amongst other things like a royal commission and the Australian Building and Construction Commission.

The Leader of the Opposition's response has been to reject that. His response was to reach inside his pocket for his trusty union membership card that he apparently brings into the parliament every day and, like a lucky rabbit's foot, a little talisman, to give it a rub and to realise that his job was to jump to the tune of the union leadership. And that is what he did. On this occasion, the Geppetto to the Leader of the Opposition's Pinocchio is Tony Sheldon from the Transport Workers Union on Qantas—the little puppet, the Leader of the Opposition, was doing the bidding of, this time, Tony Sheldon from the TWU.

But I have found some more examples of links between the Labor leadership and the union movement. They are not hard to find. Imagine my surprise, when I was searching the Leader of the Opposition's website, billshorten.com.au, to discover that the registrant of the website is the Australian Workers Union! So the Australian Workers Union does not even allow poor Pinocchio to have his own website. Geppetto makes sure that they keep a close watch on the Leader of the Opposition by being the registrant of his website, billshorten.com.au. If it is wrong you can correct the record, but it says 'the Australian Workers Union'. They do not even let him run his own website.

What we would like to see the Leader of the Opposition do is to reverse his position—to put the worker first, not the union leader first. He can do it on Qantas. He can do it on the Registered Organisations Commission. He can do it on the Australian Building and Construction Commission. He can do it on the royal commission. He can pay back the $267,000 of HSU members' money that the former member for Dobell used to get elected in 2007. I table the front page of The Daily Telegraph, 'HSU to prison stew'. I am tabling that, but I do not think that I will table the registrant because he can get that himself.