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Temby report: gravy train at full steam

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MEDIA RELEASE SENATOR THE HON. ERIC ABETZ Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Shadow Minister for Employment & Workplace Relations

Liberal Senator for Tasmania

24th July 2012

Temby Report: Gravy Train at Full Steam

The Temby Report has blown the lid on the rotten culture at the Health Services Union East Branch which has been bound up with control of the Labor Party federally and in the eastern states. The report finds $20m of dubious spending during Michael Williamson's reign at the Health Services Union East Branch.

In 2010, Michael Williamson boasted about being President of the Labor Party, member of the ALP Industrial Committee, Executive Member of the ACTU, Vice President of Unions NSW, Vice President of the ALP NSW Branch, Trustee on First State Super and Member of the Australia Day Council. At the same time the Temby Report shows that he, his family, his company and his associates received millions of dollars of payments for services without proper financial controls.

Meanwhile the low paid orderlies and hospital cleaners - the rank and file HSU members - were scraping to pay their union dues.

“This report is a scathing assessment on the union bosses who have used low-paid union members’ money as their own personal honey pot,” Senator Abetz said.

“It is clear from the numerous prosecutions by Government agencies that this culture of entitlement and illegality is not confined solely to the HSU. Labor must take seriously the importance of dealing with illegality and misappropriation of funds.”

“The union bosses now are imposing a forced levy on all union members to raise $4 million to keep Julia Gillard and themselves in power. Whether union members like it or not, they will all have to pay to prop up this Government.”

“Only the Coalition will ensure that union bosses act in the interests of workers. We moved an amendment in the Parliament to ensure the same penalty applies to union bosses as apply to Company Directors (5 years imprisonment and a $200,000 fine) if members funds were misappropriated. Labor, the Greens and Craig Thomson voted it down - you’ve got to ask if this is a one off, why won’t they increase the penalties?”

“Further, the Labor Green penalty regime is a $6,600 fine. How is a small fine an effective deterrent from a multi-million dollar rip off?”

“The Coalition has a better plan that will decommission the union boss gravy train and make sure that union bosses do what’s genuinely in the interests of their members, not themselves.


“Mr Shorten’s commentary on this matter will come as cold comfort to the low-paid members of the HSU who will open the paper today and see how their hard earned funds have been spent. They know that Mr Shorten sat on the ACTU with Mr Williamson and Mr Thomson, and he was a member of the same Labor Party that was led by Mr Williamson.”

“For years, Mr Shorten and others at the ACTU and in the ALP stood at the train station while the HSU gravy train raced on at full steam.”

“Ms Gillard and Mr Shorten need to explain if they accept the findings of Mr Temby. They also need to tell the Australian people whether they accept the findings of Fair Work Australia on Mr Thomson?” Senator Abetz said.

Media Inquiries: David Allender on 0457 590 881