Royal Commission on Trade Union Governance and Corruption

Once again, Senator Conroy is true to form; he is long on balderdash and short on basic facts. He was short on very basic facts, because the facts are that the information that was provided to Kathy Jackson, as revealed in The Australian, is exactly the kind of information that was provided to other witnesses that have appeared at the royal commission as well.

Senator Conroy: "Rubbish! Liar!"

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: "Order! Senator Conroy, you need to withdraw those comments."

Senator Conroy: "I withdraw."

Senator Conroy, I did not actually hear them myself, but I thank you for withdrawing. What Labor senators opposite have to prove in this debate is: why is it okay for some union witnesses to receive very detailed information on the topics and issues that they will be questioned about but apparently not okay for Ms Kathy Jackson to receive the same briefing before her appearance?

I actually have some basic facts to provide the Senate, unlike Senator Conroy. It looks like I will have time to actually do them, unlike Senator Conroy. There is a letter here from the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption, dated 7 April 2015, to Mr Steve Heathcote, who was a solicitor for the Transport Workers' Union of Australia. In that letter, it discusses the TWU's appearance before the commission on 11 May. I quote directly from it:

The Commission would be grateful if a statement from Mr Burton would be provided on the following topics: …

This letter in itself is more than a page long. I do not have time to read out all of the topics, but they go to the purchase of two Ford F350s in 2012-13. Senator Conroy was just saying there was some grand conspiracy over the identification of an account. This goes to the actual details of two cars purchased, as well as a redundancy payment to an individual. That is not the only basic fact that I would like to present during this debate.

There was another letter on 30 July 2014, again from the royal commission, to Mr Michael Doherty of Maurice Blackburn, a lawyer for TWU Australia. It goes to their appearance between 19 and 22 August 2014. Again, this letter is more than three pages long and details different issues that the royal commission would like to ask questions on, including the election of positions for the Flight Attendants' Association of Australia, and the receipt and expenditure of moneys by the McLean Forum Ltd and the election of positions of office to the TWU in 2010. This is standard procedure for the royal commission, and there is nothing special about this. What is special about this is the continuing attempt from the Labor Party to distract attention from the contemptible behaviour that some union officials have engaged in.

Another basic fact is that four officials connected to the CFMEU have been arrested. Twenty-six union and ex-union officials are currently under investigation by police around the country. They are basic facts. The Labor Party would have you believe that there is some grand conspiracy between the Prime Minister, the royal commission and the police forces in this country. Apparently the police forces in this country are engaged in a conspiracy among each other to distract attention from the otherwise good work of trade unions. I do think some trade unions do good work, but unfortunately there is a number—admittedly, it is a small number—of very bad apples that should be rooted out. Their behaviour should be exposed, and any decent political party in this country would join with this government, the police and the royal commission to make sure that those bad apples are gotten rid of so that the hardworking and genuine trade union members of this country can receive proper and non-corrupt representation from their officials.

But, apparently, the Labor Party with their continuing campaign of rolling out red herrings on this issue are not interested in that. They are not interested in protecting the hardworking union members that these organisations are meant to represent. They are only interested in protecting the officials and the perks that those officials can often provide. I wish the Labor Party had a different attitude, but clearly they do not.

In the limited time left available, I would like to say that a couple of weeks ago the police made a visit to some CFMEU offices. In response, CFMEU officials accused the police of being in hock to the royal commission and accused them of running a distraction campaign on behalf of the Prime Minister. What credible organisation in this country does not cooperate with police? What credible political party in this country defends people who do not cooperate with police?



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