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Monday, 19 March 2012
Page: 3260

Member for Dobell


Mr PYNE (SturtManager of Opposition Business) (14:55): My question is to the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations. I refer to his answer to the previous question from the member for Farrer where he said that the government was referring the issues in the Fair Work Australia report into the HSU No. 1 branch in Victoria to the appropriate authorities. Minister, can you name one prosecuting authority to which the Fair Work Australia report into the Victoria HSU No. 1 branch has been referred?


Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongMinister for Financial Services and Superannuation and Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations) (14:56): Firstly, in terms of the government referring matters, the person with the discretion to refer matters to prosecuting authorities is the general manager of Fair Work Australia.

Mr Hockey: You said you were referring it to the authorities.

Mr SHORTEN: No, I said that I would draw it to the attention of the ATO, which was the earlier question asked.

Opposition members interjecting

Mr SHORTEN: I am going to assume there is a scintilla of interest in the answer to the question and continue. The general manager of Fair Work Australia has the discretion, upon having investigated the matter—and the matter was investigated by her delegate—to draw conclusions and to take certain actions. What the general manager has done at the conclusion of the investigation into the No.1 branch is that she has instructed the Australian Government Solicitor to apply to the Federal Court for penalties and other orders against the HSU and certain officials. We intend to let that matter run its course. Of course, I would not put it past some of the hooligan elements opposite to try to damage those matters—

Opposition members interjecting

Mr SHORTEN: Well, you would have to say your public commentary—

The SPEAKER: Order! That gratuitous comment by the minister is outside the standing orders. If he wants the opportunity to complete his answer, he will return to the question he was asked.

Mr SHORTEN: All right, I take back the use of the word 'hooligan'. There is still further progress to be done on the national office investigation. Again, that is a matter for Fair Work Australia. The sections upon which the general manager of Fair Work Australia is relying upon are sections in the Fair Work Act, the same sections that were put in place by the then minister for industrial relations in 2002, none other than the Leader of the Opposition. We have repeatedly said that Fair Work Australia is independent and investigations are independent. We will not interfere with the conduct of these investigations and we actually have enough respect on this side of the House to let the process take its natural order.