Senate debates

Monday, 17 August 2015


Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Amendment Bill 2014 [No. 2]; Second Reading

5:23 pm

Photo of Bridget McKenzieBridget McKenzie (Victoria, National Party) Share this | Hansard source

Thank you, Senator O'Sullivan: more jobs, more money, a greater community, greater stability. That is the best outcome. Sorry, I know I have completely gone off my speech. It really concerns me when those opposite do not actually stand up for bringing confidence back into the Australian public and their view of the trade union movement.

When we look at the trade union movement, it is not just the classic stories that we all know too well; it is also things that have been brought out through the royal commission; the Comancheros being used as debt collectors. Again, in my home state of Victoria—you are shaking your head, Senator Polley.

Senator Polley interjecting—

Senator Bilyk interjecting—

Through you, Mr Acting Deputy President: in Victoria, we have evidence from the Assistant Commissioner of Victoria Police, Mr Fontana—and if you want any more details about what the ALP thinks of Assistant Commissioner Fontana, then please see the Hansard of the hearing of the Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee estimates. Do a search for 'Doug Cameron', and I think you will find some interesting reading.

In the assistant commissioner's evidence to the royal commission, he indicated that outlaw motorcycle gangs, including Comancheros, have been regularly engaged as debt collectors on behalf of the industry. Down where my children grew up, down in South Gippsland, we also have evidence of bikie gangs and organised crime being involved in illicit drugs distribution through the Wonthaggi desalination plant construction. To quote Assistant Commissioner Fontana:

Victoria Police is concerned that the methods for debt collection in the industry involve criminal conduct such as assault, threat to assault and intimidation.

We have got evidence that the Leader of the Opposition accepted donations from construction companies in his election campaign. Bill Shorten actually cut workers conditions as part of the 2006 Cleanevent agreement.

We have heard so much from those opposite around cleaning contractors. Why don't you get your own house in order instead of coming in here and making these affected claims, rather than actually dealing with the issue at hand?

I have already mentioned Cesar Melhem—and I could go on and on about dear Cesar Melhem, but I will not. Just read the papers and search it. We have the Boral issue on construction sites, again in my home state, in Melbourne. The law is determined by the CFMEU. We have evidence before the Senate estimates committee itself around the treatment of female inspectors by CFMEU officials that is nothing short of an abhorrent. And I thank those senators opposite who have actually said 'enough is enough,' because it is. And you need to have a little more conviction around standing up for those in the union movement who are doing the right thing by their members and have more courage about standing up against those in the union movement who are not doing the right thing for those hardworking members, because it trashes the whole brand.

Senator Bilyk interjecting—

Marketing 101, Senator Bilyk, through you, Mr Deputy President. You are trashing the whole brand, and it is very disappointing, because, as I have said, I have worked with a variety of unions in positive ways to secure jobs for regional Victorians and other Australians by actually working together. But we will move on to the bill itself, because it is actually quite fascinating and quite interesting.

We hear concerns that we have not consulted and, when we produced the first report back in December 2013, the Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee made a variety of recommendations as a result of the evidence. As a result of that, the government has decided to amend the bill.

I do not know what greater example there is of responsiveness to evidence than actually recognising when a good idea comes along. When a good idea comes along we will amend the legislation, and that is precisely what we did. In December 2013—


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