Page 3206 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 23 August 2017
There were millions spent by the ACT government, and in contributions to organisations like the Canberra Business Chamber, to help promote local content on this project, and there is next to none, simply because deals were sewn up, particularly by the CFMEU, regarding who would and who would not be awarded contracts to work on that project. Those opposite have said, “It’s about protecting workers’ rights.” What about protecting the rights of ACT taxpayers to get value for money, when we as a territory are paying, in some instances, more than double what we need to be paying for construction services, simply because a deal has been done with their union mates?
The influence and the intertwined nature of the union movement and the government and the way that they operate run deep. There is a plethora of issues on the table. The MOU has been spoken about in some detail this morning. We have touched on donations. It seems that the donations and the influence that the intrinsic part of the Labor Party contribute to members and their campaigns and the party more broadly in an election footing is evidence that the Labor Party is wholly marching to the beat of the drum of the union leaders. Their preselections are influenced by this influence.
We can look at some government policy areas. There are the land deals at Dickson, selling a car park to the Dickson Tradies; the acquisition of the CFMEU headquarters for $3.9 million and the peppercorn rent that has been paid since; and the very generous sale of the car park at Woden to the Tradies club. And what about the rent that the government paid back to them for use of the car park—assuming the car park was full for every moment of the day, paying the full parking ticket amount? That is an absolute win for any investor in this town, but that kind of option is available only to someone with the ear of those opposite.
It would be remiss not to remind members that, whilst the royal commission was going on, the then police minister was leaking information about AFP investigations through her staff back to the union movement. If those sorts of actions do not raise an eyebrow and get people asking questions about what on earth is going on amongst the government, I do not know what will. I understand that tomorrow the government will be bringing forward legislation for poker machines in the casino. We can only assume which clubs have already done deals to see their poker machine licences transferred over to a casino. I dare say it will be someone awfully close to this Labor government.
It also makes one really wonder as to the aversion this government has to anti-consorting laws. I remind everyone in this place of the evidence that came up during the royal commission—the use of outlaw motorcycle gangs on construction sites, running the intimidation network on behalf of unions as common practice—and then think of the ACT experience and the influence that unions have here. The cynic in me says perhaps there is something going on more broadly here in the ACT. The minister should come clean and explain clearly what, if any, influence the union movement has had around the implementation of consorting laws in the ACT. I believe it was in Victoria that there were some very clear examples of outlaw motorcycle gangs being the bagmen for the union movement. Is that happening in the ACT? What is being done to address it? And why is the minister so afraid of anti-consorting laws in this town? It really makes one wonder.