Abetz presses Shorten on ‘deal’

Sunday Tasmanian - - News - DAVID BENIUK

LIB­ERAL sen­a­tor Eric Abetz has called on Fed­eral Op­po­si­tion Leader Bill Shorten to re­lease doc­u­ments re­lat­ing to the ap­point­ment of a Tas­ma­nian union leader to the Fair Work Com­mis­sion.

The call comes af­ter for­mer Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Elec­tri­cal and Plumb­ing Union state sec­re­tary Ni­cole Wells’ ap­point­ment to the Tas­ma­nian In­dus­trial Com­mis­sion was re­port­edly re­ferred to the state’s In­tegrity Com­mis­sion.

Ms Wells was ap­pointed to the fed­eral FWC by then Work­place Re­la­tions Min­is­ter Mr Shorten soon af­ter tak­ing up the Tas­ma­nian role in 2012.

A Fed­eral Court hear­ing into an­other mat­ter heard in 2015 that the first ap­point­ment had been a “stitch up”, with for­mer Tas­ma­nian Work­place Re­la­tions Min­is­ter David O’Byrne to re­ceive “a bit of lolly”.

“These mat­ters raise se­ri­ous ques­tions about the ap­point­ment process un­der­taken by Mr Shorten as a min­is­ter and the ex­tent of his knowl­edge of these al­le­ga­tions and, ac­cord­ingly, he should re­lease all doc­u­ments re­lat­ing to her ap­point­ment,” Sen­a­tor Abetz said.

Mr O’Byrne, Ms Wells and her union­ist part­ner Kevin Harkins, who al­legedly made the com­ments aired by an­other witness in court, have de­nied the claims.

“As I have said be­fore, there is ab­so­lutely no sub­stance to these un­founded al­le­ga­tions, which I pre­sume are part of a pre-elec­tion smear cam­paign,” Mr O’Byrne said.

Three mem­bers of the Hodg­man Lib­eral Gov­ern­ment — a for­mer min­is­ter and two cur­rent min­is­ters — have been re­ferred to the In­tegrity Com­mis­sion, at least two of them by po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents.

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