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Tuesday, 14 October 2003
Page: 21308

Mr LATHAM (3:21 PM) —My question is to the minister representing the Special Minister of State, and it concerns a registered political party. Does the minister still believe that it is inappropriate for trade unions to be affiliated to political parties? How then does he explain this letter sent by Mr Malcolm Turnbull to the national office of the miscellaneous workers union asking them to join the Point Piper branch of the Liberal Party? Mr Turnbull says in this letter that this will allow the miscos to engage with like-minded people and make a difference inside the Liberal Party. Will the minister now amend the Electoral Act to encourage even more trade union participation inside the Liberal Party of Australia?

Mr ABBOTT (Minister for Health and Ageing) —I thank the member for Werriwa for his question. As for why Malcolm Turnbull has written to the miscellaneous workers union, I do not know—I just do not know. I suggest to the member for Werriwa that if he is deeply curious about this he should ring up Malcolm Turnbull and ask him. What I do want to say is that one of the great contemporary political tragedies is that the union movement is still in a symbiotic Siamese twin relationship with members opposite, because the fact is that the vast majority of the decent union members of this country know a good Prime Minister when they see one and they are now supporting the Howard government.

Mr Latham —We welcome the support on behalf of the labour movement, but we also ask to table the letter from Malcolm Turnbull to the miscellaneous workers union.

Government members—Yes, please!

Leave granted.