Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
MATHIAS CORMANN: Last night the Government delivered on our commitment before the last election to establish the Registered Organisations Commission. This now means that union officials and officials in other registered organisations have to comply with the same accountability and transparency standards, or similar accountability and transparency standards,as company directors. It means that hard working union members will now be better protected from being ripped off by union officials.
Today, the Government will start the debate on the re-establishment of the Australian Building and Construction Commission. A very important piece of legislation. A very important reform designed to bring down the cost of construction across Australia, by improving productivity and dealing with lawlessness by enforcing compliance with laws across construction sites across Australia.
What we call on Labor to do is to stop their ideological opposition to this very important reform. To join in with the Government to address lawlessness on construction sites across Australia. To support legislation which will improve productivity, which will bring down the cost of construction across Australia. Because when infrastructure projects are delivered on time and on budget, it gives investors confidence to invest more, in more projects, delivering more jobs and delivering more infrastructure across Australia, promoting stronger economic growth.
This is an opportunity now for Bill Shorten to show some leadership and to stare down those in his caucus who want to continue to protect the lawlessness pursued by various union officials on construction sites across Australia. It is the opportunity for Bill Shorten to stand up for the national interest.
Happy to take questions.
QUESTION: How confident are you of securing the same outcome that we saw last night, with the ABCC?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We don’t take anything for granted. My very good friend and colleague Michaela Cash has done a lot of work with the Senate crossbench. That was on display last night when the Government was able to achieve the successful passage of legislation to establish the Registered Organisations Commission. That was one of two key pieces of legislation, indeed it was one of the two double dissolution triggers that the Senate dealt with last night. It was a very significant achievement for Senator Cash personally, but it was a very significant achievement in the national interest ensuring that union officials and officials in other registered organisations now have to comply with similar transparency and accountability standards as company directors already do. This will better protect hard working union members from being ripped off by bad union officials.
QUESTION: When do you expect an outcome on the ABCC?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The debate will start today. We would expect that the second reading debate will take some time. Our objective is to pass a series of very important pieces of legislation over this week and the next week before we rise for the Christmas break. The sooner the better, but we understand that there is a process to go through in the Senate.
QUESTION: Just on the Nationals crossing the floor in the Senate last night, is that a rebuke of the Prime Minister?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Not at all. In the Coalition we have a great tradition that Coalition backbenchers can cross the floor when they feel strongly about a particular subject. As far as the Government’s position is concerned, the Government initiated the import ban on the Adler shotgun. We are keeping the import ban in place until such time as the States have made relevant decisions. The Government’s position is very clear but individual backbench Members and Senators always have the prerogative in the Coalition to vote according to their ultimate views.
QUESTION: Not a great look though is it? Something like a split on something like gun laws.
MATHIAS CORMANN: The Government’s position is very clear. The import ban remains in place and the import ban has the strong support of the Parliament. I do not think that this is an issue at all.