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Thursday, 21 March 2013
Page: 2332


Senator FURNER (Queensland) (11:47): Unfortunately I have only a couple of minutes to address some of those issues that Senator Macdonald raised in this debate on the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Amendment (Towards Transparency) Bill 2012. In saying that, when I look at the title of this bill and see the word 'transparency', I question the ideological attack on union organisations that this bill represents and the one-sided transparency.

Why do I suggest that? We merely need to look at today's Courier-Mail. I am glad Senator Macdonald referred to what is happening in Queensland, my home state as well. The headline in the Courier-Mail today is 'Caught out: proof that Driscoll lied to parliament'. Driscoll is the newly elected member for Redcliffe, a Liberal National Party member. He has been caught deliberately lying to parliament about phone lines he installed so that he could secretly run a retail lobby group from his electoral office. This is the transparency that those opposite want to apply. They do not want to apply it and shine it on the organisations they support, the employer organisations; they want to shine it only on unions. This is the contradiction in the actions of those opposite when they present private members' bills like the one they have presented in the chamber today. The article goes on to say:

But new evidence uncovered by The Courier-Mail ties Mr Driscoll directly to a scheme under which phone lines used by the Queensland Retail Traders and Shopkeepers Association, also known as the United Retail Federation, were moved to the electorate office last year so staff on parliamentary salaries could help run the lobby group.

How corrupt, how inept and how disrespectful it is to use public money, taxpayers' money, in Queensland to run a private business out of an electoral office. It demonstrates the contradiction of coalition speakers who have come in here today and indicated that they want transparency. What is the Premier of Queensland saying about this? Nothing. He is standing by his man. While this member for Redcliffe is being investigated by the Crime and Misconduct Commission and investigated by the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission, Campbell Newman, the Premier of Queensland, wants to give him a fair go. I will give him a fair go. Let us hope he comes clean and indicates the corruption he is involved in—I should say alleged corruption because at this stage he has not been proven guilty by the Crime and Misconduct Commission or the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission.

Surely this is a clear example of the double standards of Liberal National Party both in Queensland and in this house when they come in here and try to put up such private members' bills. Under the Gillard government financial accountability standards for registered organisations have never been higher, so we have set that benchmark. They have never been higher before in this place. We set that benchmark purposely to make sure that organisations are accountable for their actions. But, rather than look at actions of employer organisations, which the opposition should be doing as well if they want to address concerns, they come in here and attack the trade unions that are doing an excellent job for the workers in our country—workers the opposition despise and hate. We will see that in their industrial relations policy at some stage in the future when they come to power.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Order! The time for this debate has expired.