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Tuesday, 22 May 2012
Page: 5010

Member for Dobell


Mr BRIGGS (Mayo) (15:00): My question is to the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations. Has the minister asked his department to investigate the member for Dobell's claim that the deputy president of Fair Work Australia, Mr Michael Lawler, interfered in the Fair Work Australia inquiry into the Health Services Union? If he believes the member for Dobell's claim, why not?


Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongMinister for Financial Services and Superannuation and Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations) (15:00): I thank the member for Mayo for his first question on industrial relations since he designed Work Choices. I listened carefully to the member for Dobell's speech. Let me put this on the record: there has been no evidence of misconduct provided to me about the matter which you are raising. There has been no evidence of misconduct provided to me. However, when I am asked about the statement and the matters referred to in the statement, let me also put on the record—as this government has done any number of occasions since the release of the Fair Work Australia general manager's delegates report into the HSU—that something has clearly gone very wrong in parts of the HSU. The conduct and behaviour, the subject of the findings, are unacceptable. It is disturbing.

Mr Briggs: Madam Deputy Speaker, on a point of order about relevance. The question was very specific: has he asked his department to investigate the claims made.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! The minister is answering the question and has the call.

Mr SHORTEN: Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. To take up where I left off, the question asked by the member for Mayo is clearly politically motivated. There is no doubt that those who are responsible for the conduct reported in parts of the Health Services Union should be held accountable. We owe it to the members, we owe it to their families. But to do so means the court processes must be upheld. I think it is time for those opposite to stop engaging in the personal destruction of people. It is time for those opposite to accept that the court processes are the best place to test the evidence. It is in fact time for those opposite to return to the matters of importance in the national debate about the future of work and workplace relations. It is time for those opposite to raise their voice not in some sort of swamp of self-righteousness. It is time for those opposite to stand up and raise—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! It is time for the minister to return to the question.

Mr SHORTEN: It is time for those opposite to stop being self-righteous and instead—why don't they ever vote for an increase in super for low-paid health workers? Why don't they ever vote for a pay rise for low-paid workers? Will they be making a submission to the minimum wage case in favour of health workers? I think not.

Mr Briggs: Madam Deputy Speaker, I seek leave to ask the minister to table the documents which he was quoting from.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Was the minister quoting from a document?

Mr SHORTEN: No.

Mr Pyne: Madam Deputy Speaker, on a point of order: you and I both from our vantage points here can see that the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations was reading from a document. His answer that, no, he was not was clearly untrue.