Wednesday, 6 September 2017
Questions without Notice
Thank you, Senator Paterson, for the question—and, yes, I can. As journalist Simon Benson has reported in The Australian this morning:
The nation’s largest trade unions have amassed a political war machine totalling more than $1.5 billion in assets and a combined income stream estimated at $900 million a year, despite a continuing decline in their membership base.
So what we've got here is the unions quite literally amassing billions of dollars whilst at the same time, paradoxically, their membership base is now doing this. Unions actually now only represent 10 per cent of the private sector workforce, yet they are asset-rich and receive hundreds of millions of dollars in income streams each year. In fact, the CFMEU have an accumulated asset base of $206 million, with a yearly income stream of $123 million.
The issue is this: the union movement have moved away from their previous core business of representing the Australian worker, and they now have become nothing more and nothing less than a profit-making business in their own right. And do you know what this profit-making business does? It runs a small subsidiary company known as the Australian Labor Party. But get this—and it goes to what Senator Cormann has said—unions can no longer say that they are standing up for the average Australian and bemoan the big corporations who they claim not to do anything with, because the unions are now the big end of town. (Time expired)
Opposition senators interjecting—
There has been, given that we now know how much the unions have amassed, but more than that—
An opposition senator interjecting —
I did hear the comment on the other side, 'What's wrong with making a profit?' Absolutely nothing, but most other people have to pay tax on it. Guess what? The unions pay no tax. That's something the Australian people didn't know. Read the comments online—they are very interested in why a $1.5 billion asset base and a $900 million revenue stream pays absolutely no tax.
In relation to superannuation funds, superannuation funds are there for the benefit of the members, one would think. Unless, of course, you are an industry super fund, because industry super funds over the last 10 years have made $53 million in payments to Labor-aligned unions, who have then given $65 million to the subsidiary company, the Australian Labor Party. That is not representing the interests of your members. (Time expired)
Whilst unions—and obviously it does excite their political subsidiary, the Australian Labor Party—fight against tax reductions for small businesses and propose an increase in taxes for individuals, the unions conveniently, despite their $1.5 billion asset base, despite their $900 million revenue stream each year, pay no tax—no tax at all! Unions should be using their privileged tax-free position to advocate for their members. Instead, what they now do, the union movement of 2017, when they talk about inequality, maybe they're talking about the inequality of having to pay tax when you're a business and not having to pay tax when you're a union. That's inequality if ever I've seen it.
Senator Ian Macdonald interjecting—