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Thursday, 21 June 2007
Page: 85

Mr McARTHUR (2:58 PM) —My question is addressed to the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations. Will the minister inform the House how a strong watchdog is fighting intimidation in the workplace? Is the minister aware of any alternative policies?

Mr HOCKEY (Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service) —I thank the member for Corangamite for his question and note that he and people on this side of the House believe that you have to have a strong watchdog taking care of the construction industry whilst they build Australia. You cannot in any way compromise that watchdog as it goes about its business ensuring that intimidation and thuggery are not part of the building sites and that people who engage in that sort of thuggery are brought to justice.

I know the Leader of the Opposition only last night discovered Joe McDonald. Only when there was a videotape from the Western Australian court obtained by six media organisations did the Leader of the Opposition discover that in his policy of zero tolerance there was no place for Joe McDonald. It is not as if Joe McDonald is new on the scene. In fact, I got a list of unlawful conduct, trespass and other charges against CFMEU officials, and Joe McDonald gets a lot of naming. These are the events where he was convicted of trespass: firstly in the early nineties, and then it goes 1998, June 2000, September 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004 and October 2005. He was convicted of assaulting two managers of a building company in August 2005, and then trespass again in February 2006, November 2006 and December 2006. Of course, this is Joe McDonald—and the Leader of the Opposition discovered it yesterday—facing charges for illegally entering Doric Constructions, Q-Con, Broad Constructions and Pindan Constructions.

The Leader of the Opposition yesterday discovered that Joe McDonald pointed at a camera held by one of our watchdogs and said, ‘Your days are numbered.’ So what does the Leader of the Opposition do? He goes to sack Joe McDonald, but he keeps the policy to make sure that the watchdog’s days are numbered. He sacks the messenger but keeps the policy. If that is not hypocrisy when it comes to zero tolerance, I am not sure what is.

But it goes even further. Kevin Reynolds, the branch secretary of the CFMEU, has 230 findings of unlawful conduct, the majority of findings against CFMEU officials. Kevin Reynolds is listed as a repeat offender. John Sutton, National Secretary of the CFMEU, on 19 May 2003 pleaded guilty to charges of malicious damage—the CFMEU national secretary engaging in malicious damage. But it goes further than just the CFMEU—what a surprise! The Prime Minister pointed out that in fact Joe McDonald was donating money to the Australian Labor Party—$70,000 on one occasion. What a surprise then that the Labor Party is not prepared to chuck out two people that have serious charges in the New South Wales courts—Charlie Morgan and Bruno Mendonca for engaging in alleged intimidation and assault. So Joe McDonald is thrown out for swearing at a cameraman, but two officials of the NUW still have so-called natural justice even though charges have been laid against them. Do you know what, Mr Speaker? Kevin Reynolds says—

Mr Crean interjecting

The SPEAKER —Order! The member for Hotham!

Mr HOCKEY —Do you know what Kevin Reynolds said today? The member for Hotham is former NUW going in to bat for the boys—good on you. Kevin Reynolds said it this morning.

Mr Crean interjecting

The SPEAKER —The member for Hotham does not need to respond.

Mr HOCKEY —When it was put to him about Joe McDonald, Kevin Reynolds said: ‘I’ve noticed there’s a couple of other union officials been arrested for being involved in a punch-up and they are members of the Labor Party and I’m sure he’ll have to deal with them now. Well, he has to.’ That is Kevin Reynolds—still a member of the Labor Party. Kevin Reynolds says that there are two NUW officials currently with charges before the court, and now Kevin Reynolds is calling on the Leader of the Opposition to take action and draw a line in the sand—zero tolerance.

This is thick with hypocrisy. Dean Mighell was thrown out of the Labor Party for swearing, and yet the secretary of the Victorian ALP said, ‘After the election he’ll be back.’ The Leader of the Opposition said, ‘Not only are we throwing out the individual; we’re going to send the money back to the ETU.’ We have seen no receipt. No-one has seen any receipt. The money never went back to the ETU; it is still sitting in Labor Party coffers. Today, after he has seen a videotape of Joe McDonald, despite numerous previous convictions for intimidation and thuggery, now suddenly the Leader of the Opposition tends to believe he has to draw a line in the sand. ‘Zero tolerance,’ he says. That is not zero tolerance. Zero tolerance is getting rid of the links between the Labor Party and the union movement; zero tolerance is not accepting union money; zero tolerance is not accepting union candidates in seats; and zero tolerance is tearing up the Labor Party’s industrial relations laws.