House debates

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Matters of Public Importance

Turnbull Government

3:27 pm

Photo of Christopher PyneChristopher Pyne (Sturt, Liberal Party, Leader of the House) Share this | Hansard source

Senator Dastyari was stood down. And now he's back. He was stood down for a matter of months. This week the Leader of the Opposition, incapable of standing up to the CFMEU, is even incapable of standing up to Sam Dastyari. So he's put Sam Dastyari back on the frontbench and he's in the decision-making team of the Leader of the Opposition's office.

Secondly, there is Senator Kimberley Kitching, the hand-picked candidate of the Leader of the Opposition to go into the Senate. She was hand-picked by the Leader of the Opposition against the advice of most of his frontbench from Victoria, including the member for Isaacs, who threatened to resign as shadow Attorney-General over the appointment of Kimberley Kitching but then didn't have the courage of his convictions. Senator Kitching was referred by the Heydon royal commission—the royal commission that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition says found nothing—to the DPP for criminal charges. In spite of knowing that, the Leader of the Opposition put her into the Senate, over the complaints and objections of some of his frontbenchers. She was referred to the DPP for possible criminal charges for aiding and abetting the false and misleading statements of six other HSU officials by sitting their right-of-entry test. Apparently, she bragged that she got 100 per cent in some of the tests, saying, 'Did another one—got 100 per cent again.' This is the person who the Leader of the Opposition thought should sit in the Australian Senate and who he is praising right now in the House for her pursuit of the Minister for Employment.

But it's not just Senator Dastyari or Senator Kitching; the Leader of the Opposition himself has amongst the lowest standards of any Leader of the Opposition who's ever sat in that seat. The issue that we are debating today is the misuse of union members' money. The opposition thinks that the indiscretion of a ministerial staffer is a capital offence but that the misuse of union members' money is something that should be ignored. In fact, people who do it are promoted in the Labor caucus. The issues that we're discussing are the questions the Leader of the Opposition needs to answer about the donation of $100,000 to GetUp! in start-up money, when it was first getting started, when he was on the board of GetUp! and also the national secretary of the Australian Workers' Union. So, when he was secretary of AWU, $100,000 went to GetUp! from the AWU, and he was on the board of GetUp! when it got started. And, quite legitimately, members of the fourth estate have asking the Leader of the Opposition to answer questions about whether the correct processes were followed in the union, and he has refused to answer those questions. He has refused to cooperate, and the AWU has refused to cooperate. That is why the offices of the AWU in Melbourne and Sydney were raided—because the ROC had evidence, enough suspicion to suspect, that those documents could be destroyed. The ROC and the AFP obtained a warrant from a magistrate in Victoria, who agreed that they had good enough cause to have that suspicion that the offices should be raided.

The AFP don't go around raiding union offices for the fun of it; they did it because they wanted to make sure the law was upheld. In the Labor Party, that is a capital offence as well, and their response to that has been to attack the AFP—to attack the integrity of the Australian Federal Police—which is utterly disgraceful. One day, perish the thought, the Labor Party might be back in office again, and the AFP will serve them as well as it has served this side of the House and the other side of the House over the last 30 or so years, with complete fairness to both sides. In fact, it was appalling that the AFP commissioner felt the need to defend the AFP by putting out a statement today. Andrew Colvin should not have been placed in this position by the Leader of the Opposition. He was placed in this position by the Leader of the Opposition and by the disgraceful statements of the member for Gorton about the AFP and its lack of integrity, accusing of it being a political tool of the government.

A government member: What a disgrace!

It was a disgrace, and it remains a disgrace. He says:

The AFP has this week been the subject of commentary and innuendo regarding its independence and the ability of AFP members to carry out their work objectively and without political interference. The AFP … undertakes its activities without fear or favour. The AFP rejects in the strongest terms any suggestion to the contrary.

The other two matters that have been discussed and that the Leader of the Opposition has failed to provide the facts about are the donation of $27,000 that Australian Super gave to the Australian Workers Union when the Leader of the Opposition was the National Secretary of the Australian Workers Union, was on the board of Australian Super and was the candidate for Maribyrnong. Amazingly—coincidently—not very long later, the AWU made a $26,000 donation to the Maribyrnong campaign.

The Leader of the Opposition refuses to answer questions about that. Which part of probity doesn't this Leader of the Opposition understand? Thirdly, in 2007 the Leader of the Opposition cut out the middle man: 'I'm sick of wasting time with Australian Super or the GetUp! organisation; I'll get a donation of $25,000 directly from the Australian Workers Union to the Maribyrnong campaign.' That was when he was the candidate for Maribyrnong and the National Secretary of the AWU.

Mr Hawke interjecting

He cut out the middle man, as the assistant minister points out, and got the money transferred directly across. And this is the man who lectures us about standards and transparency and accountability? He has absolutely zero credibility.

Could I also say in relation to the defence of the AFP: what a disgraceful performance it has been. It is totally contrary, once again, to the Leader of the Opposition's past statements about the Australian Federal Police.


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