Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
MATHIAS CORMANN: This week Bill Shorten will have to show that he sides with Australian workers and union members and not with union officials doing the wrong thing by their members and workers around Australia. Given his strident support for a union official who has been referred for further investigation by the union Royal Commission, the signs are not good. But this week in the House of Representatives, the Labor party will have the opportunity to support legislation which will ensure that union officials and officials in other registered organisations have to comply with the same standards of accountability as company directors. There is no proper reason why the Labor party could possibly vote against imposing the same standards of accountability on union officials and officials in other registered organisations as those that currently already apply to company directors.
Happy to take questions.
QUESTION: How confident are you of winning crossbench support for that and the ABCC?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Our Minister for Employment, my good friend and colleague Michaela Cash, did an outstanding job in achieving the support of crossbenchers in the Senate and the Senate for the legislation which protects volunteer firefighters from a Labor sponsored hostile union takeover of the Country Fire Authority. She is working very hard to persuade a majority of Senators of the merits of our Registered Organisations and ABCC legislation. Let’s wait and see. But this week the question really is for Bill Shorten as to what he will do in the House of Representatives. If he votes for it, if he decides to put Labor’s weight behind legislation that would ensure union officials and officials in other registered organisations have to comply with the same standards of accountability as company directors it would sail through the Senate. There is no good reason why Labor would vote against legislation that ensures union officials and officials in other registered organisations comply with the same standards of accountability as company directors.
QUESTION: Would you be willing to negotiate anything on the ABCC Bill? Or as it stands it will be presented to the Senate?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The legislation to restore the Australian Building and Construction Commission is very important legislation for our future economic success. It will help improve productivity. It will help bring down the cost of construction across Australia. It will help increase the level of employment in the construction sector. It is an important part of our plan for the economy, our plan for jobs and growth. It is a plan that we took to the last election. The legislation is there for all to see. It will be introduced into the Senate the way it was introduced to the Parliament. Let’s wait and see what happens in the Senate.
QUESTION: The union says it will be challenging that CFA legislation in the courts. How confident are you in the legislation?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I am very confident. Some sections of the union do not know when to give up. It was always inappropriate for the Andrews Government in Victoria to run a union hostile takeover of a volunteer firefighting body. In Victoria, a Labor state minister decided to resign rather than to support the Shorten-Andrews sponsored hostile takeover of the Country Fire Authority. Our legislation was, again, the execution of a pre-election commitment. We are very confident that that legislation will stand.
QUESTION: How disappointing was the ACT election result over the weekend for the Liberal party?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We always prefer to win. We did not quite get there. Jeremy Hanson and his team did a great job but it is no secret that the ACT is a difficult ground for us.
QUESTION: Do you think that the ACT election result is an indication of how people are feeling Federally at all?
MATHIAS CORMANN: No. The ACT election result was very close. It was not that dissimilar to the ACT result about four years ago. The ACT is always very challenging for us. This election was no different.