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Monday, 21 May 2012
Page: 4754

Member for Dobell

Ms JULIE BISHOP (CurtinDeputy Leader of the Opposition) (14:55): My question is to the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations. I ask the minister in his capacity as minister responsible for registered organisations, in particular for the operation of the Health Services Union: what steps has the minister taken to ensure that the $457,000 of Health Services Union members' funds found by Fair Work Australia to have been misused on expenses for the Member for Dobell will be repaid to those union members?

Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongMinister for Financial Services and Superannuation and Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations) (14:55): In terms of the Fair Work Australia report I have said on previous occasions, and I am certainly happy to repeat it here, that this investigation will be tested in court. I think this is important. There has much been said about this investigation, and the member for Dobell has given his statement in the last couple of hours about it. I certainly believe that the investigation has taken too long. What I also know is this: the investigation stage is at a conclusion. I believe it is fundamentally important to the members of some of the parts of the HSU that have been affected by this inquiry that they see this matter brought to a close—all of the matters, including the question which the opposition member raised. I also think that these matters have to be brought to a close in the correct way: they have to be tested in court.

I also say this in passing: I think we owe it to the individuals caught up in this controversy and their families to have this matter tested in court. This parliament should not be judge and jury; we owe it to everybody who has been caught up in this disturbing, regrettable and unfortunate issue—the whole issue. If the people opposite are so outraged by what has happened, at least respect the process enough to let the matter be brought to a conclusion in the way it should be as opposed to by any other sort of kangaroo court of political opportunism.