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Thursday, 21 June 2012
Page: 7506

Registered Organisations


Ms JULIE BISHOP (CurtinDeputy Leader of the Opposition) (15:02): My question is to the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations. I refer the minister to the government's measures to improve the transparency of registered organisations. Does the minister agree with the member for Barton's comments in the House today that the government's changes do not go far enough, based on the member for Barton's previous experience in certain industrial cases to which he specifically referred, and that 'the law can be further strengthened'?


Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongMinister for Financial Services and Superannuation and Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations) (15:03): I always appreciate the contribution from government members about the regulation of registered organisations, because I know on this side of the House we understand the value of a transparent, honest and independent trade union movement and employer associations. Whilst I do not often feel this sensation, I am a little grateful to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition for talking about this issue, because it reminds me of the same theme I had in my previous answer about the shadow Treasurer. What a shame in 2001 when the then minister for industrial relations failed to put in place the laws we do now.

Ms Julie Bishop: I rise on a point of order. The member for Barton referred specifically to cases in which he had been involved. I have asked the minister if he agrees that based on those particular cases the law should be strengthened.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms AE Burke ): The Deputy Leader of the Opposition will resume her seat. The minister has the call.

Mr SHORTEN: In terms of the propositions which the government is advancing, I am more than confident that every Labor member will support the propositions. I more than confident that fair-minded crossbenchers will support the propositions. I more than confident that the Business Council of Australia, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Australian Industry Group, the National Farmers Federation and the Road Transport Federation will. What a bunch of Marxists they must all be to support this! What a bunch of dupes you are implying they all are. What would have happened in 2001 if the then minister for industrial relations had done his day job instead of bashing unions—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The minister will resume his seat. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition on a point of order?

Ms Julie Bishop: The minister is defying the ruling on relevance. I have asked him about specific cases—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Deputy Leader of the Opposition will resume her seat! The minister has the call.

Mr SHORTEN: I look forward to her contribution in the debate. I submit to the House that what we are doing is improving transparency. We are fixing the problems which the previous minister failed to do. And, by the way, rather than take up further time here, I will debate the shadow Leader of the Opposition—in fact, I will take any three shadow ministers—you pick the crowd, you pick the venue. Let's talk about your hidden workplace relations policy. Bring it out of hiding.

Government members: Hear, hear!

Ms Julie Bishop: On a point of order. Again, ministers opposite keep using the word 'you' and 'your' and it reflects on the chair. I am concerned about that.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Deputy Leader of the Opposition will resume her seat. I will, yet again, remind all members of the chamber that they are speaking through the chair when they are on their feet, and I do not need to cop any more abuse than I am already getting!