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Monday, 7 November 2016
Page: 2921

Workplace Relations


Mr VASTA (Bonner) (14:36): My question is to the Minister for Defence Industry representing the Minister for Employment. Will the minister outline to the House the government's commitment to ensure that employer and employee organisations always act in the best interests of their members? What impediments stand in the way of achieving this outcome?


Mr PYNE (SturtLeader of the House and Minister for Defence Industry) (14:37): I thank the member for Bonner for his question. He is right that it is critical to reform unions and other registered organisations in Australia. The coalition of course supports honest unions and honest union leaders. What we have seen in the Health Services Union, the CFMEU, the MUA and other unions confirms the need for a Registered Organisations Commission. So the question is: why is the Leader of the Opposition standing in the way of cleaning up the unions?

You would expect that the Leader of the Opposition would want to clean up the unions because of the symbiotic relationship between the ALP and the union movement, but in fact the opposite is true. He is the one standing in the way—he is the hurdle—for the passage of the Registered Organisations Commission legislation. There can be only one conclusion as to why that is the case. It is obviously because the Leader of the Opposition is the cat's paw of the union movement. The latest example of this is the elevation of Kimberley Kitching to the Australian Senate. This person was hand-picked by the Leader of the Opposition in a captain's call, over the objections of retiring Senator Conroy, over the objections of the member for Corio and over the objections of all the usual people who advise the Leader of the Opposition about the management of the Victorian party. So one has to ask: why would that be the case?

Kimberley Kitching was referred by the Heydon royal commission for prosecution to the Commonwealth DPP for impersonating union officials and filling out their safety tests to go on worksites. She in fact bragged about it and used to go to her superiors and say: '100 per cent again. Got 100 per cent for the test again.' She impersonated six union officials, including the head of the union, Diana Asmar, so they could pass their safety tests and go on worksites. Do you in the Labor Party condone that? Is that what the Labor Party think is reasonable behaviour? What if a worker on one of those worksites was hurt because one of those union leaders went onto the worksite and had not properly passed a safety test?

Yet that is the person Labor put into the Senate. So all the crocodile tears about workers' rights, the safety of workers and how the CFMEU stands up for those workers who have been injured or even lost their lives in workplaces stands for nothing because instead they put into the Senate someone who impersonated union officials, filled out their safety tests for them and potentially put workers in danger. The Labor Party stands condemned. I can tell you that there will be a lot more of this. (Time expired)

Ms Butler interjecting

The SPEAKER: I caution the member for Griffith right now.