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Monday, 4 December 2017
Page: 9488

Registered Organisations


Senator CAMERON (New South Wales) (14:42): My question is to the Minister for Employment, Senator Cash. The Australian Public Service Code of Conduct states that 'employees should avoid partisan comment'. On Friday, the Registered Organisations Commissioner, Mark Bielecki, and the commission's executive director, Chris Enright, admitted to making partisan comments during a break in the Education and Employment spillover estimates hearing. What action has the minister taken to enforce the Australian Public Service Code of Conduct?


Senator CASH (Western AustraliaMinister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service, Minister for Employment and Minister for Women) (14:43): I thank Senator Cameron for the question. Senator Cameron, I completely reject the premise of your question. You should have read out the comment that you believe was partisan and was made, because as I recall, Mr Bielecki stated that he said nothing—

Senator Wong interjecting

Senator CASH: But I have to say, Senator Cameron's hatred of the Registered Organisations Commission is absolutely well known. What those on the other side fail to understand is: why do we need a Registered Organisations Commission? It is because we need to protect honest union members from the theft and deception—

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! The Leader of the Government has precedence. I will come to you next, Senator Cameron.

Senator Brandis: Mr President, Senator Cash was inaudible to me sitting right here, because of the bellowing across the chamber from Senator Wong.

The PRESIDENT: I was calling the chamber to order during the answer. Senator Cameron.

Senator Cameron: A point of order on relevance. The question was: 'What actions has the minister taken to enforce the Australian Public Service Code of Conduct?'

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! Order right around the chamber. Senators Wong and Macdonald—

Senator Wong interjecting

The PRESIDENT: I'm not going to rule on the point of order until interjections cease across the chamber.

Honourable senators interjecting

Senator Sterle: Chuck him out, the old fool.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Sterle, that is not helpful. We're running down the clock for question time, which is traditionally a time for the opposition. Senator Cameron, on the point of order on relevance, the minister is allowed to address material you used at the beginning of the question in framing the question. In my opinion, the minister is relevant to the material you had before that part of the question which you restated.

Senator CASH: As I was saying, Senator Cameron's dislike of the Registered Organisations Commission is well known. This was addressed at Senate estimates on Friday. I reject the premise of Senator Cameron's question.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Cameron, a supplementary question?













Senator CAMERON (New South Wales) (14:45): I refer to reports that a Fair Work Ombudsman official was involved in the discussion. Does the minister accept the Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James's denial that she was involved?


Senator CASH (Western AustraliaMinister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service, Minister for Employment and Minister for Women) (14:45): Senator Cameron, you'll recall that the Fair Work Ombudsman was asked a direct question and gave a direct answer. I can only take that the Fair Work Ombudsman answered the question as she saw fit.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Cameron, a final supplementary question?



Senator CAMERON (New South Wales) (14:46): Given that two members of the Registered Organisations Commission were overheard making partisan comments, and the minister refused to outline actions taken—

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! Please stop the clock. I couldn't hear part of that question.

Senator Wong: All I did was shoosh.

The PRESIDENT: I was going to point out that there was noise across the chamber from both sides. Senator Cameron, please continue.

Senator CAMERON: Why should anyone have confidence in the independence of the Registered Organisations Commission?






Senator CASH (Western AustraliaMinister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service, Minister for Employment and Minister for Women) (14:46): I thank Senator Cameron for the supplementary questions. Senator Cameron would be aware that this was canvassed in detail, I think by himself, with both the Registered Organisations Commission and the Fair Work Ombudsman at Senate estimates on Friday and the answers I refer to.