Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 30 May 2018
Page: 4966

Mr RAMSEY (GreyGovernment Whip) (16:04): This MPI today—the failure of the government to be accountable to the Australian people—has been a clear attack on the Minister for Jobs and Innovation, Senator Michaelia Cash, from start to finish. I'm a country bloke and I come from a world where a handshake still means something, where a man's or a woman's word is good enough. And I have a good respectful relationship with the union leaders who live and work in my electorate, especially, I might say, in the town of Whyalla, where they, along with the rest of the community, have helped rescue the Whyalla steelworks. And I stand ready to keep fighting with them for the right outcome. They are unions who are doing what they are supposed to do—looking after their members.

It seems a world away from the central and national leadership of some of the union movement, where it seems to be perfectly fair game to take members' money and use it for purposes a long way removed from the members' interests. It is a world where the secretary of the ACTU, Sally McManus, is urging lawlessness from the union. Even with dozens of their members facing court proceedings, they advocate for more lawlessness. A place where secret deals which benefit union officials and their mates, and penalise their members, is sadly all too common a place, as was detailed by the Heydon royal commission. And it's a long way from home—it's a long way from where I come from—but it impacts on the whole nation, because it raises the question of who would be running the nation if Labor were to win the next election.

Instead of getting to the bottom of the deal the Leader of the Opposition did with GetUp!, the Labor Party wants to pursue the side show, as to whether someone in the minister's office leaked to the press and who authorised or triggered the raid on the AWU offices. The issues of substance though are the union's or official's behaviour that triggered the investigation in the first place and what part the Leader of the Opposition, in his former role as leader of the AWU, had in that deal. The Registered Organisations Commission is trying to discover whether the Leader of the Opposition donated a hundred thousand dollars of union members' money to GetUp! without the authority of his executive. Instead, Labor wants to know who pointed the finger—who put the Federal Police on the path, trying to find out what happened to members' funds and whether they had been misappropriated—not whether the crime had been committed. It's a very old but good piece of advice, and I suggest that Labor takes it: don't shoot the messenger. Don't get bogged down on who blew the whistle. Do the right thing and find out if union members have been ripped off.

We should just reflect on this. The union, we are told, took the money from the coal workers to support GetUp!, which is implacably opposed to their industry. Why would they do that? Perhaps they didn't. Perhaps it was the Leader of the Opposition's sole decision. Perhaps he didn't have the authority of his executive. So why not produce the evidence, if the evidence is there? Why not produce the minute, the note, whatever it was? Surely the union wouldn't give a hundred thousand dollars to an organisation opposed to coalmining when the dues have come from their coalmining members without at least discussing the decision.

In fact, Australians are increasingly concerned about where the Leader of the Opposition's loyalties lie. While he continues to receive millions of dollars from the CFMEU, the most lawless union in the land, Bob Hawke, Peter Beattie and Kevin Rudd have all urged him to sever ties. Hawke says he should do as Hawke himself did, with the outlawing of the Builders Labourers Federation, deregistering them from the ALP, but the Leader of the Opposition remains tied to the purse strings of the CFMEU. The Leader of the Opposition's past is littered with secret deals. The Chiquita Mushrooms, Cleanevent, Cirque du Soleil and Melbourne and Olympic Parks Trust deals have all benefitted the union. And the union bankrolls the ALP, but it has penalised the workers. It's a desperate act trying to defend the Leader of the Opposition in this time. Maybe it's a little bit like Weekend at Bernie's. The Labor Party is desperately trying to keep this figure alive until the next election, hoping beyond hope that they can keep him in protection until that time. Meanwhile, the opposition leader, through his proposals for the tax system, is going on his repeated escapade of confiscating cash from people who have earned it in a fair and proper way—mechanics, policemen, nurses and teachers—and taking franking credits away from retirees. It is disgraceful. That is where accountability lies.