SUBJECT/S: ABCC Legislation, Registered Organisations, Senate Cross bench negotiations.
MINISTER CASH: I have always maintained that I would negotiate in good faith with the cross benchers, the reality of the Senate in this Government and in the previous Government and even in the Government under Labor, was the Government of the day does not have the numbers.
When you don’t have the numbers, you need to negotiate with those who will support your policy. Labor and the Greens have made it very clear, they for financial reasons are beholden to the unions.
Way back in 2010, Dean Miles of the ETU, he has actually given his own evidence himself, where he said, and I’ve got it here, “given that the Federal ALP is desperate for funds, surely we can say we will help them if and only if they will abolish the ABCC” and that was for $11 million donated to the Labor party in that financial year.
If you want to talk about horse trading, the Labor party need to be very careful.
LAURA JAYES: Minister, I am trying to get to what the Government is willing to offer or has offered David Leyonhjlem here. Can you offer him that agreement, listing restrictions over Lever Action shotguns? It appears under the Abbott Government he was given that commitment and it wasn’t followed through on.
MINISTER CASH: I am in negotiations in good faith with all of the cross bench because Labor and the Greens have said hands off, we don’t support law and order in the building and construction industry.
I have consistently maintained, both in the former Parliament and this Parliament, I don’t negotiate through the press. Cross benchers come to me with all sorts of issues, all sorts of concerns, some are related to the legislation, some completely unrelated.
What we ultimately negotiate at the end of the day will be just that. I have also made it very clear, I will not negotiate something that compromises the intent of the ABCC and the Registered Organisations legislation, because this is good public policy. We need to restore law and order to the building and construction industry.
Sky themselves today were playing that explosive video of a union delegate abusing in the most horrendous manner, “I’ve got your phone number, I’m going to come and get you” that is the type of behaviour we are trying to outlaw, Labor doesn’t want to talk about that, because Labor are financially beholden to the unions.
LAURA JAYES: You’ve just said you don’t control the Senate, its blatantly obvious, what do you think about Tony Abbott sending out a tweet, saying the “ABCC should stand on its own there should be no horse-trading”
MINISTER CASH: I would agree with Tony Abbott in terms of the good public policy, when you look at why we want to reintroduce the ABCC, we want to get rid of that disgusting behaviour on building sites. No person should have to go to work and put up with that vile abuse.
There’s also a productivity benefit to Australians, why should Australians continue to pay up to 30 per cent more for public infrastructure because of the stranglehold the CFMEU has on the industry.
In terms of the public policy I would agree, however, we don’t have the numbers in the Senate and I think the Prime Minister has been upfront about the fact that in this Parliament and in the previous Parliament, as under the Rudd and Gillard Parliament, yes negotiations will occur, what those negotiations are ultimately, is a decision for the Government.
LAURA JAYES: One more question on this, would you see a lifting of the restriction on lever action shotguns as a watering down of the Howard Government National Firearms Agreement…
MINISTER CASH: I need to be really clear on this, because again, talk about distraction politics today…
LAURA JAYES: Are they two separate issues in your mind though?
MINISTER CASH: Can we start with, the National Firearms Agreement introduced in 1996, has given us some of the strongest gun control laws in the world. We are proud of those laws and under this Government I can assure you there will be no watering down of that 1996 agreement, in terms of Labor today, again distraction politics, let’s talk about anything other than the good public policy issues.
They talk about caring about guns and yet twice now they have voted against legislation that we have brought into the Parliament to impose minimum mandatory sentence for illegal firearms, Labor say one, sounds great on the TV…
LAURA JAYES: But you wouldn’t see that a watering down of the Howard Government firearms agreement?
MINISTER CASH: I think Senator Leyonhjelm sees this as a strengthening, at the moment as you know, Lever Action shotguns are in Category A, that is the most lenient of the four categories.
COAG, or the relevant Ministers, the relevant COAG committee, is currently looking at how we can reclassify these firearms, until that agreement has taken place and it hasn’t yet taken place, we have put a ban on the importation of lever action shotguns with the capacity of 5 rounds or more.
We are actually looking at how we can strengthen the categorisation of these shotguns, but again, Labor say one thing and then by their actions, they don’t support minimum mandatory sentences for the importation of illegal firearms, how do you get there Laura?
LAURA JAYES: David Leyonhjelm isn’t the only one who wants to see amendments; we have spoken about Senator Xenophon amendments in the past, so do you now have to concede at least that there probably won’t be a joint sitting of Parliament to sort this out?
MINISTER CASH: In the first instance, under the constitution the Government has to bring both Bills back through the Parliament in the normal manner, we have reintroduced both pieces of legislation in the House of Representatives, and we can negotiate them through the Parliament with amendments.
LAURA JAYES: Let me ask you about the Registered Organisations Bill as well, Labor wanted to give ASIC more oversight, but the most serious contraventions of the Registered Orgs Act this is two years ago, it would then double the penalties for criminal offences under the Fair Work Act, what’s wrong with that proposal?
MINISTER CASH: What our legislation seeks to do is establish a Registered Organisations Commission on its own,
LAURA JAYES: Why couldn’t ASIC do what Labor wanted it to do….
MINISTER CASH: Because ASIC’s core business is not going after Registered Organisations…
LAURA JAYES: But with more funding?
MINISTER CASH: That would only be a part of what ASIC does, when you look at the evidence flowing form the Royal Commission and in particular the scandals that occur at the HSU it is very clear that you need a regulator standing alone with robust powers, that is what we propose, Labor’s is just a mere excuse not to support strengthened legislation for Registered Organisations and again, Labor will be the first to run around and say, this is what I find so interesting, that ASIC doesn’t have enough powers at the moment and can’t focus on what it should be doing and yet they want to give ASIC even more things to do? That is an excuse; it does not solve the issue. It gives ASIC an additional workload which is not its core business.