Senate debates

Monday, 17 August 2015


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

5:43 pm

Photo of Ian MacdonaldIan Macdonald (Queensland, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

The CPSU. Even of those, only 42 per cent choose to join a union. Every time a Labor politician gets up and says, 'I represent the working men and women of Australia,' I say to myself, 'You represent less than 12 per cent of them in the private sector and less than 17 per cent across Australia.'

It is the working men and women of Australia who time after time—and I mentioned the 2004 election—have returned Liberal governments because they do not trust the unions either. If they trusted them, if they thought they were doing anything for the working men and women of Australia, they would probably join them. They would probably become members of the union, but they do not because (a) they think the unions do nothing for them; (b) they think the union officials do everything for themselves, and we have had a lot of evidence about that; and (c) they do not believe that they are on the right track for the interests of working people in Australia. And those working people of Australia vote for Liberal governments, not for Labor governments. This is an important factor, which I repeat often and will repeat more often because I get sick and tired of Labor senators getting up and saying that they represent the working people of Australia when clearly they do not. Clearly they do not! Less than 12 per cent of private sector workers choose to join the union.

A lot of those workers do not join the union, because they look at people like Craig Thomson and say, 'We are not going to pay our money so that some union hack, some union official who was supported by the Labor Party into this parliament, can cheat us, can rob us and can use our money for his own personal gratification and gains.' That is why people do not join the unions. If this legislation were passed and unions were more accountable, perhaps some of that 88 per cent of workers in the private sector who choose not to join a union might say, 'Well, now that the union industry is open and accountable, we might join because we now know that they are honest because we have the transparency and the accountability mechanisms to see that they are looking after our interests and not after their own interests.'

I say to anyone else taking part in this debate: do not be misled by anything Labor Party politicians tell you on this debate, because they represent less than 12 per cent of private sector workers.

You might ask yourself why that is so. It is because those private sector workers know that the union officials, by and large—there are some exemptions, and I have mentioned one case—are in it more for their own interests rather than the interests of the workers they serve. That is why 88 per cent of workers in the private sector choose not to belong to a union. Listening to Labor Party people talk you would think that they represent every single working man and woman in Australia. Clearly they do not. And I can assure the Senate—because I know, and the election result proves it—that workers in the forestry industry in Tasmania voted for the Liberal Party when the Labor Party abandoned them and left them to rot on the unemployment rubbish heap.

This bill, when it is passed, will help the unions. It will allow workers to understand that the unions are accountable and transparent. I would have thought that any genuine union official would be out there supporting this bill, because it could mean that more Australian workers would have the confidence and the trust to join a union. This bill will give Australian workers confidence and trust in the union movement, and that is one of the reasons that it should be supported.


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