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Wednesday, 16 August 2017
Page: 5813

Trade Unions


Senator REYNOLDS (Western Australia) (14:22): My question is to the Minister for Employment, Senator Cash. I refer the minister to her answer in question time yesterday, and I ask the minister: can she further update the Senate on recent reports regarding payments from registered organisations to activist groups?


Senator CASH (Western AustraliaMinister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service, Minister for Employment and Minister for Women) (14:22): I thank Senator Reynolds for her question. Despite being asked every day this week to produce the relevant documentation confirming whether the $100,000 donation from the AWU to GetUp! was made in accordance with the AWU's rules, Mr Shorten continues to remain silent. This is of course despite the fact that at the time the donation was made he was the National Secretary of the AWU and a board member of GetUp!. The AWU has confirmed that the donation was made, but that is it. It too has failed to provide any evidence that this $100,000 donation was properly authorised in accordance with the union's rules.

The evidence should not be difficult to disclose, as all unions are required to keep these documents by law. The lack of response to date is clearly not acceptable. Either the donation was properly authorised in accordance with the union's rules or the AWU under Mr Shorten had terrible problems with record keeping and governance. Mr Shorten has been given ample opportunity to provide an explanation as to his and the AWU's failure to provide the relevant documents, which begs the question: do they in fact exist? Given the failure to provide the relevant documentation to show that the $100,000 donation from the AWU to GetUp! was properly authorised, the matter has been referred to the Registered Organisations Commission. There are serious questions that remain to be answered. Was the donation authorised under the rules? If so, where are the records?

The PRESIDENT: Senator Reynolds, a supplementary question.



Senator REYNOLDS (Western Australia) (14:24): Can the minister also explain to the Senate why it is important that registered organisations are transparent to their members—

Opposition senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order on my left! Senator Reynolds, you have the call.

Senator REYNOLDS: I'll start again. Can the minister please explain why it is important that registered organisations are transparent to their members about donations to activist groups?




Senator CASH (Western AustraliaMinister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service, Minister for Employment and Minister for Women) (14:25): It is because members of registered organisations deserve to know that the registered organisation is acting in their best interests. Let's look at the best interests of AWU members and GetUp! and what they campaign for. Those interests could not be more separate. GetUp! actively campaigns for the imposition of carbon taxes. The AWU, on the other hand, allegedly represents manufacturing workers whose industries require low-cost electricity. GetUp! campaigns actively against coalmining. AWU members work in the coal industry and the steel industry, which does require coal. GetUp! campaigns actively against gas exploration. AWU members work in the gas industry. There is a clear theme here. The one union whose members would suffer more than anything from the implementation of GetUp!'s agenda is the AWU.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Reynolds, a final supplementary question.



Senator REYNOLDS (Western Australia) (14:26): Can the minister also advise if she's concerned that these donations may not be in the best interest of members of registered organisations?


Senator CASH (Western AustraliaMinister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service, Minister for Employment and Minister for Women) (14:26): We should all be concerned when registered organisations do not properly represent the interests of their workers. Mr Shorten was claiming to represent the interests of AWU workers but, at the same time, he was giving money to an outfit that wants to actively campaign to destroy their jobs. These interests could not be more disparate. The AWU, as I said, represents workers allegedly in disparate sectors. In these sectors, there are workers who produce aluminium or who work in oil refineries, in oil treatment plants, in the steel industry or in the gas industry, and workers involved in the exploration of hydrocarbons. All of these workers' jobs, thousands and thousands of them, are directly put at risk by the campaigns of GetUp!, yet Mr Shorten proudly supports, with a $100,000 donation, an organisation that actively works against his own members. (Time expired)