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Thursday, 9 December 1993
Page: 4313

Senator MINCHIN (8.02 p.m.) —I move:

  That the Senate take note of the document.

I glanced through this Australia Council annual report with considerable interest. My eye was drawn in particular to the community cultural development program, particularly to the amount of money which flows to the trade union movement via Australia Council grants. I find it difficult to accept without great concern—ironically in the year of the federal election, a year in which the trade union movement spent a considerable amount of time, money and effort re-electing the Labor government—that so much money is flowing to the trade union movement.

  I find it utterly inappropriate. A major issue of propriety is in relation to the use of the Australia Council as a vehicle for expending a vast amount of money on the trade union movement which, patently and obviously to the people, has enormous and significant sums of money at its disposal, and which were used quite blatantly to re-elect the Labor government back in March.

  Page 99 of the annual report has a section listing trade union programs which get a total of $166,000. Above that, trade union arts organisers get a number of grants totalling $62,000. Among the other extraordinary items under this program are other union grants, buried away almost as though they were deliberately hidden in other grants. There is something called national networking—I have no idea what that is—for which the Trades and Labour Council of Queensland got $15,000. There are performance projects. The trade union choir of South Australia got $6,000. The total was $40,000 or $50,000. There is promotion—field initiated, with more grants to trade unions. There is resource development—field initiated, with more grants. The Australian Railways Union of South Australia, the Food Preservers Union of South Australia, the trade union choir of South Australia and the Waterside Workers Federation are all getting thousands and thousands of dollars of grants under these extraordinarily obscure programs—under the Australia Council's auspices. It is quite inappropriate for taxpayers' money to be used to fund these various activities of trade unions, particularly in a year in which thousands and thousands of dollars of trade union money has been used to re-elect the Labor government.

  Question resolved in the affirmative.