2GB Julian Lorkin - Royal Commisssion and penalty rates

  • Minister for Employment
  • Minister for Women
  • Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service
  • Senator for Western Australia

2GB Radio – with Julian Lorkin


Subjects: Final Report of the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption, Fair Work Commission findings

JULIAN LORKIN: On the phone I have the Employment Minister Michaelia Cash - great to have you on Money News Michaelia.

MINISTER CASH: Great to be with you Julian and your listeners.

JULIAN LORKIN: So then, your calling for really more effective legislation and more accountability what exactly are you going to do?

MINISTER CASH: Well as we have announced today we will be on the first day that parliament returns next year we will be re introducing the legislation to res establish the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) in the first sitting week of 2016 and we will seek to have it passed by both houses before the end of march and we also announced today that the Royal commission has recommended stronger legislative reform to improve transparency  and accountability in organisations, both recommendations go beyond what the Government had initially propose by way of our legislation we will now consider the royal commissions finding and we will bring forward stronger legislative reform.

JULIAN LORKIN: Okay then, let’s take that first point the Australian building and construction commission, it was abolished in 2012, many of its functions were taken over by an independent specialist agency, the fair work building and construction organisation, why do you want to turn back the clock?

MINISTER CASH: Basically what happened is the Labor Party fundamentally watered down the Australian building and construction commission, it is very clear that the lawlessness in particular the CFMEU and its behaviour in the building and construction industry in Australia can no longer go unaddressed, we will move to introduced the stronger legislation to reintroduce the ABCC in its original form with all of the appropriate powers as it did have, the building and construction industry Julian is far too important to the Australian economy to let lawlessness run rife within it, at the end of the day, people who work within the construction industry they want to get up and they want to do a good days work, they want to earn a dollar, but they don’t want to be involved in an industry where thuggery is rife, where intimidation and fear is rife and where you work in an industry, quite frankly some of the major players think that the law does not apply to you, we have said enough is enough and we will be, as I said, reintroducing legislation on the first parliamentary sitting day of 2016 the legislation to reintroduce the Australian Building and Construction Commission.

JULIAN LORKIN: Okay can I put one other point from the unions to you Michaelia, the unions have responded that they are there to represent their members admittedly in a somewhat robust way.

MINISTER CASH: That is exactly right, the unions are there to represent their members, but what this report clearly shows, the report is now there for everyone to see the facts are now there for everybody to have a look at, the report now shows that there are numerous unions out there that have not represented their workers and what the report actually finds is that there is widespread misconduct and numerous actions favouring the interest of the union leadership over the members, now I think anyone listening to your show will know that none of that behaviour is consistent with organisation whose purpose is to serve their members best interests.

JULIAN LORKIN: Okay there are actually 79 recommendations in the report, obviously we don’t know what is in one of the volumes, it is contained in 6 volumes, one of them is confidential, just one of the recommendations is a call for an independent body to look into the finances and records, how independent will it be if it has been set up by this by this royal commission?

MINISTER CASH: very much, what we have been calling for 2 years, we took it to the 2013 election, in relation to the Registered Organisations there is a need and given now we have the findings of the royal commission for much stronger legislation governing the transparency and accountability of registered organisations that currently exist what the report recommends is new laws that are actually stronger than the Registered Organisations Bill that the government had before the parliament and which was voted down by Labor and the Greens and some of the cross benchers three times now , so what we are doing, is that we have given the commitment that we will act to introduce stronger and more effective legislation to deal with what we can now see laid out in front of us, is a lack of accountability and transparency of Registered Organisations of both union and employer associations, hardworking union members, they deserve the governments support to protect their interests and we are going to give it to them.

JULIAN LORKIN:  Well, certainly many workers have been doing it tough and they would argue that they want their support of their union, of course we all want unions to act legally and act within the law and I need to bring in another point, this is from your opposite number, Brendan O’Connor, he argued that the royal commission was simply, and these are his words, and he says that this is a politically motivated witch hunt, how do you respond?

MINISTER CASH: I would expect nothing more from Brendan O’Connor and what I would say to Brendan O’Connor, Bill Shorten and Labor is that today is D day, today is the end of denial, today is the end of deflection and today is the end of any form distraction what the Royal Commission itself states, in relation to the evidence, the overwhelming evidence, it cannot be denied or ignored for this reason, almost all of the underlying facts have been established by admissions to the Commission and these admission are mainly from employers and union members in controvertible documents, decisions of courts and tribunals or well corroborated testimonies, so anybody who wants to continue to say that this was nothing more or nothing less than a political witch hunt that refuses to acknowledge the findings or recommendations go and have a look at the facts upon which the findings and recommendations have been made.

JULIAN LORKIN: Michaelia, one more point, the union have been campaigning, quite strongly, all unions really have been campaigning on penalty rates, is it right that say any reduction to Sunday payments, should that be determined by the Fair Work Commission?

MINISTER CASH: The Government has no role in determining penalty rates, the penalty rates are determined by the fair work commission the Fair Work Commission are currently looking at the issue of penalty rates and that is at the behest of Bill Shorten who was the former Industrial relations minister under the former Labor government. The Government has no plans to change penalty rates, as I said, that is what the Fair Work Commission is looking at and we will leave any decision to the Fair Work Commission.

JULIAN LORKIN: Great talking to you Michaelia.

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