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Monday, 24 February 2014
Page: 558

Donations to Political Parties


Dr SOUTHCOTT (Boothby) (14:47): My question is to the Minister for Education and Minister representing the Minister for Employment. Will the minister inform the House what funds the Health Services Union, a registered organisation under the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009, provided to a political party from 2007? How does that compare with the funds found to have been taken from that union's members by its national secretary, the former member for Dobell?


Mr PYNE (SturtLeader of the House and Minister for Education) (14:48): I can inform the member for Boothby about the questions that he has put to me. The first question was: how much has the Health Services Union, a registered organisation under the act, provided to a political party from 2007? I can tell the House that the Health Services Union gave $1.2 million to the Australian Labor Party—$1.98 million was donated to the Australian Labor Party from 2007 to last year.

Mr Perrett: More than big tobacco gave you, Chris.

The SPEAKER: The member for Moreton will desist.

Mr PYNE: I can also tell the House that the Fair Work Commission found that $267,721 of Health Services Union members' money was used in the Dobell campaign to elect Craig Thomson, the former member for Dobell. So $1.2 million went from the Health Services Union to the Australian Labor Party and $267,000 of Health Services Union money was found by the Fair Work Commission to have been used to elect the member for Dobell.

I can also tell the House that the Labor Party paid $350,000 of legal fees for the member for Dobell prior to the last election in order to maintain his vote in the parliament. Senator Sam Dastyari admitted that was paid in order to make sure that he remained in the House and they could, therefore, rely on his vote. Here is an important test for the Leader of the Opposition because he has failed the test on the Registered Organisations Commission, he has failed the test on the Australian Building and Construction Commission and he has failed the test on the royal commission into union corruption. But this is an important test. If it was good enough for the Labor Party to use their members' funds to fund the legal defence of Craig Thomson, the former member for Dobell, will the Labor Party pay back the $267,000 to the Health Services Union members that was taken illegally by the former member for Dobell to use in his campaign to be elected? This is the test for the Leader of the Opposition. If he really stands on the side of workers, he would direct the Labor Party national office to repay $267,000 to some of the poorest workers in the economy, to those members who faithfully handed over their membership dues to the union bosses—

Ms Rishworth interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order, Member for Kingston!

Mr PYNE: He has to show whether he is on the side of the worker or on the side of dodgy union officials. Can he rise above his background or will he continue to be a union official and support union officials running a protection racket for a protection racket? This is his latest test, and I hope he will announce today that he will at least pass that test.