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Transcript of interview with Paul Murray: Radio 2UE, Sydney: 4 April 2012: Health Services Union report



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LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MHR FEDERAL MEMBER FOR WARRINGAH

4 April 2012

TRANSCRIPT OF THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MHR, INTERVIEW WITH PAUL MURRAY, RADIO 2UE, SYDNEY

Subjects: Health Services Union report.

E&OE……………………….…………………………………………………………………

PAUL MURRAY:

Tony Abbott is the Opposition Leader. Tony, good afternoon.

TONY ABBOTT:

G’day Paul.

PAUL MURRAY:

This is bizarre because even in the best possible reading of this, this thing has just got too weird now.

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, Paul, plainly the wrong thing has been done. Hundreds of thousands of dollars of unions members’ money was used on campaigning expenses and living the high life, including prostitution expenses. If a company director used shareholders’ money of this he would be in jail. No doubt about that. Now, something very wrong has happened. The guilty parties need to be identified and charged and if what we get is an endless merry-go-round where people say, ‘it’s not my job to do these things’, the public suspicion will grow that what’s really happening here is that there’s a protection racket designed to save Julia Gillard and Craig Thomson. Now, fair enough, the DPP says it needs a brief of evidence before it can proceed. The imperative is for Fair Work Australia is to prepare a brief of evidence. It’s identified 181 breaches of the law, 76 of them apparently serious breaches of the law. It needs to prepare a brief of evidence. If it lacks the capacity to do so itself, it should engage solicitors who can. This is not legal rocket science. It happens every day in our criminal justice system. A brief of evidence needs to be prepared. It needs to be given to the DPP urgently so that justice can be done.

PAUL MURRAY:

And also, I’ve got to say that I fully support Kathy Jackson, the National Secretary of the Health Services Union position, that we might need a judicial inquiry into the entire investigation because it’s pretty bizarre to me that you would take three years, write an 1,100 page report, find 181 breaches of the law but not quite hand over the right paperwork to action any of those into criminal charges.

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, I think that’s a fair point, but rather than another inquiry, what we need now is justice. We need swift, exemplary justice and that means that the investigation work that has been already done which has disclosed these 181 offences - 76 of them were apparently serious - it ought to be converted into a brief of evidence and given to the DPP so that the DPP can do its job by identifying the guilty parties and prosecuting. Otherwise, there will be one system of justice for Australian citizens and another system of justice for the Gillard government and its members - a system of justice which is designed to ensure that wrongdoing by the Gillard government and its members is not punished. Now, that’s just wrong.

PAUL MURRAY:

So do you think that there is a smother here, or do you think that there is incompetence at play?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, I just think that an investigation that has gone on for three and a half years, which seems to be specifically designed not to end up with a criminal prosecution, not to end up with a criminal conviction because the result of the criminal conviction would be that Craig Thomson would have to leave the parliament and the Gillard government would lose its majority - it does I think inevitably strike the public as odd and I think inevitably the public wonder whether there isn’t a protection racket at work here to protect the Gillard government and Craig Thomson.

PAUL MURRAY:

If in eighteen months time there are still no criminal charges, if in eighteen months we’re still basically playing this merry-go-round game, if there was a Coalition government, would you have an inquiry into this entire mess. I know you said you don’t want to have another inquiry, but if it was you sitting in the Prime Minister’s chair, would you be looking into this entire affair and even going as far as royal commissions into the entire union industry?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well Paul look, let’s cross that bridge if and when we come to it. I think what we’ve got is 1,100 page investigation that took over three years to conclude, that cost of a million dollars of taxpayers’ money. That report should be made public. The DPP should be given the brief of evidence and the guilty party or parties should be prosecuted and, if appropriate, convicted because justice has to be done and plainly at the moment wrongs have been done but no justice has been metered out and that is so unfair to the Australian public at large, but particularly to the lowly paid of the Health Services Union whose money has been so scandalously abused.

PAUL MURRAY:

Yeah I agree. 77,000 members here, we’re not talking about one or two. We’re talking about workers with some of the toughest jobs.

TONY ABBOTT:

These are cleaners in hospitals, these are people who tend to those who are going in and out of operations. They’re not well off people. They part with a few hundred dollars of their money every year, they want it to be used respectfully of them and instead union officials have been living the high life at their expense, feathering their own nest at their expense. It’s just wrong.

PAUL MURRAY:

Yeah, exactly.

TONY ABBOTT:

The guilty parties need to be prosecuted and where appropriate punished.

PAUL MURRAY:

Alright Mr Abbott, nice to talk to you. All the best.

TONY ABBOTT:

Thank you so much.

[ends]