House debates

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Questions without Notice

Trade Unions

2:39 pm

Photo of Andrew GeeAndrew Gee (Calare, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Defence Industry, representing the Minister for Employment. Will the minister outline to the House why it is important that the union movement is run honestly on behalf of hardworking Australian families and businesses? Is the minister aware of any alternative approaches?

2:40 pm

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

I thank the member for Calare for his question. Yesterday on Radio National, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, on the Fran Kelly program, in answer to a question about the issue that we've been discussing in the last couple of days, said the government set up a royal commission, the Heydon royal commission, which 'found nothing'. Saying the royal commission found nothing is like saying that, in 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue and found nothing. He didn't come across North America. What would finding something look like? Finding the lost city of Atlantis? Would that have been finding something? The Ark of the Covenant—would that have been finding something, Member for Sydney? What a ludicrous statement!

Let me remind the Labor Party of some of the things the royal commission found. As a consequence of the royal commission, there have been 10 successful prosecutions, eight criminal convictions and two civil penalties. Eleven matters are currently before the courts in criminal and civil matters. One hundred and nineteen referrals have been made to the DPP because of the Heydon royal commission, because of illegal activity. Because of the Heydon royal commission, the Australian Building and Construction Commission has been re-established. Because of the royal commission, the Registered Organisations Commission has been established and the corrupting benefits legislation has been passed by both houses of parliament. Before the House now is the ensuring integrity bill and the proper use of workers' benefits bill. That's all happened because of the Heydon royal commission, which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition says found nothing.

The problem with the Labor Party and their relationship with the union movement is they are addicted to the rivers of gold that the union movement funnels to the Labor Party for their election campaigns. If the Leader of the Opposition had any integrity, he would turn his back on the CFMEU rivers of gold that hold up his leadership. The problem is—and the Australian public get it—that, if the Leader of the Opposition isn't strong enough to stand up to the CFMEU, he certainly isn't strong enough to stand up for the nation's interests at home or abroad.