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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 04 Hansard (Wednesday, 6 April 2016) . . Page.. 1139 ..

I have to say in the ACT, it appears has now four levels of government. You have the legislature, the executive, the judiciary and then of course there is the unions. Labor want to put the unions at the very top of the structure. There is no doubt that, based on this document, the ACT government runs a closed shop. In the ACT, it is determined by the unions and at a cost to the taxpayer.

Madam Speaker, as I have raised in this place before, you simply need to follow the money. Unions in the ACT, and specifically the CFMEU and the CFMEU-owned Tradies Club, are major financial contributors to the members of this parliament that form government—that is, the members of the Labor and Greens parties in this place. Everyone on the opposite side of this chamber, including the crossbench, are here in part because of the political and financial support offered by the union movement to their organisations.

What we have here detailed in the eight pages that form the memorandum of understanding between UnionsACT and the ACT government, signed by the Chief Minister, is the kickback that the unions get in exchange for this support. The MOU is extremely explicit in the roles and responsibilities for both the government and the union movement in relation to procurement. In fact, it outlines it in so much detail it even provides definitions of terms as simple as what “consultation” means in regard to the agreement. The agreement says:

Consultation means providing relevant information to UnionsACT and/or the relevant union as identified by Unions ACT. It means more than a mere exchange of information.

It is fairly explicit in what it seeks to say. Point 5 of the agreement states:

The Territory Directorate responsible for procurement will make an annual report to UnionsACT on the progress made of implementing this agreement and on instances of compliance activities undertaken by the Territory …

So this is not a mere agreement, as the Chief Minister tries to spin it today, about ensuring work health and safety outcomes; this is the ACT government reporting to the union movement, as government directorates do to this place, on their performance annually. That in itself is absolutely appalling. It seems that this government manages to genuinely consult with its union masters, but time and time again it fails to provide genuine consultation with the community, the ratepayers and those who are ultimately responsible for electing the government—the citizens of the ACT.

Time and time again we have had ministers in this place stand up and provide steadfast assurances to this Assembly that procurement is done at arm’s length from cabinet. It is fair to say now that the MOU clearly shows just how arm’s length these decisions are being made not just from cabinet but from the entire ACT public service. It is clear that the union movement is responsible for procurement decisions in this territory. We are told that all decisions are done at arm’s length, but at the end of that arm is the right hand of the unions.

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