Senate debates

Thursday, 7 December 2017


Minister for Employment

10:00 am

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

But you can tell, Mr Acting Deputy President, whenever the truth comes out, the bullies on the other side think they're at a union movement. They think if they shout loud enough, threaten loud enough, they can call down their opposition. Senator Watt well knows this. Senator Jan McLucas was the only female senator in Queensland for the Labor Party—one who came from the north of Queensland, outside Brisbane—and Senator Watt used some of the skills he learnt in the union movement and working for the Labor Party to get rid of her—knife her in the back. He got rid of her. She was the only female senator in the Labor Party from Queensland, and the only one who was based outside the Brisbane capital city. Senator Watt knows what this is all about. He is well skilled, well practised.

Let me say this about Senator Cameron. I confessed—and I said this would come back to bite me—that outside of this chamber, when he is being a normal person, Senator Cameron is not a bad sort of fella. He is good company to be with. But as I said recently, Senator Cameron's history in finance is that he was an apprentice in a place in Scotland. He finished his time with the company and came out to become a tradesman there and the company closed its doors a week later. So he came to Australia and spent two years as a fitter at the Garden Island shipyard. Then he spent seven years as a maintenance fitter up at some coal mine in the Hunter Valley. I'm sure he was a very good maintenance fitter. That was his experience in life, and then he became a union official. Then, suddenly, he ends up as a director of a multibillion-dollar superannuation company, earning big fees as a director. I raise no implication of impropriety, but one might question how someone with seven years' experience in the workforce as a fitter can somehow become a director of a multi-billion-dollar finance company, whose expertise on the board, one would hope, would be international finance, banking, superannuation, and all those sorts of things.

Senator Cash is a minister who calls out this thuggery and criminality in the union movement. The union movement doesn't like it, because, for the union movement, the honesty and accountability that Senator Cash is trying to bring in to the union movement is such that when it succeeds—and her work and the Turnbull government's work will succeed—it means the unions are finished, because they represent only 17 per cent of the people. They will then no longer be able to use bullying, standover and criminal tactics to get their way. The unions know that, and so does every member opposite. That is why there is this concerted attack on Senator Cash. They think they picked an easy mark because she is a woman, but they should know by now that Senator Cash is tougher than any of them ever will be. But she does it in an honest and straightforward way. She doesn't hide behind anything. The accusations! Almost every word that Senator Cameron mentioned in his 20-minute ramble was not accurate. It was a mistruth and, if it weren't the Senate, I would call it for what it really was. He talks about Senator Cash being under criminal investigation. He knows that is not correct, yet he continues to peddle the lie because he thinks, as the union movement thinks, that a woman can be bullied into succumbing and getting off their back and not exposing them for the criminality that they indulge themselves in.

Senator Cameron is one of those who protected Luke Collier. Remember Luke Collier, the CFMEU official who had several convictions in the courts of the land? Senator Cameron and his mates continue to protect Luke Collier. This is the guy who threatened a Fair Work building inspector at the Barangaroo construction site. This is the Luke Collier who was charged with bashing his partner. This is the type of person that Senator Cameron defends and that Senator Cash exposes, and the union movement do not like it, because they know that, when Senator Cash succeeds, their type—these thugs and bullies who run certain elements of the union movement—will be out of a job and will not have the power that they exercise over the alternative government, with the measly 17 per cent of the Australian workforce they happen to represent.

This is a matter of life and death for the union movement, and it is a matter of life and death for the Australian Labor Party, which is controlled, owned and operated by the union movement, that little group of people who represent only 17 per cent of workers in Australia—and that's not the whole Australian population but just the working population of Australia. The union movement knows that if Senator Cash succeeds, if the Turnbull government succeeds, in exposing the criminality and thuggery in this little group of people—who, through their influence on the Australian Labor Party and those who sit opposite here, can control the alternative government, as they control the government in most of the states at the moment—it is a matter of life and death for them. When you get the ABCC exposing the thuggery and criminality, workers—genuine workers—in Australia will leave the union movement in droves, as they have been doing over the past years. No matter how much Senator Cameron follows the lead of these union thugs in attacking independent public servants, who can't answer back, it will get them absolutely nowhere.

Now, Senator Cameron mentioned Mr Enright, who I'd never met or seen before until I went to an estimates committee the other day. Here again today, as he did in that estimates committee, Senator Cameron personally attacks a public servant doing his job. But Mr Enright is a public servant answering to parliamentarians—and I have to say those public servants still give respect to the institution of parliament and to parliamentarians. But they cannot fight back, they cannot answer back; they have to sit there and be subjected to inaccurate, lying attacks by Labor senators about their credibility. Mr Enright, who I'd never met, as I said, until the—


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