Shorten grilled over staffer’s pay do­na­tion

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - MATTHEW BENNS

LA­BOR leader Bill Shorten rushed to de­clare the do­na­tion of his elec­tion cam­paign man­ager’s $ 40,000 salary just two days be­fore he ap­peared be­fore the Royal Com­mis­sion into Trade Unions.

The wage was footed by a labour hire com­pany at the same time Mr Shorten’s Aus­tralian Work­ers’ Union was ne­go­ti­at­ing the pay and con­di­tions of its work­force.

In a long day be­fore the in­quiry into trade union cor­rup­tion, Mr Shorten faced dif­fi­cult ques­tions about deals struck dur­ing his time as Vic­to­rian and na­tional sec­re­tary of the AWU.

Mr Shorten con­firmed the salary of Lance Wil­son, his cam­paign man­ager for the seat of Maribyrnong in 2007, was paid for by a com­pany called Unibuilt.

But he only asked the ALP to no­tify the Aus­tralian Elec­toral Com­mis­sion of the deal “within the last 144 hours or last Fri­day or Mon­day or Tues­day”.

Coun­sel as­sist­ing the com­mis­sion Jeremy Stol­jar said Mr Shorten scram­bled to dis­close the deal on Mon­day af­ter his le­gal team re­ceived no­tice from the royal com­mis­sion. Not declar­ing a do­na­tion is a crim­i­nal of­fence car­ry­ing a max­i­mum 12- month sen­tence.

Mr Wil­son’s con­tract was drawn up by the AWU’s chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer and de­scribed him as a re­searcher for Unibuilt. Mr Stol­jar said: “Isn’t this the po­si­tion that the pur­ported con­tract falsely states that Lance Wil­son is a re­search of­fi­cer with Unibuilt when, in fact, he was your cam­paign di­rec­tor?”

Mr Shorten said Unibuilt owner Ted Lock­yer knew he was do­nat­ing a per­son to his cam­paign be­fore con­ced­ing: “It was a do­na­tion by Unil­built of a per­son to work on my cam­paign, that’s cor­rect.”

Mr Stol­jar said doc­u­ments con­cealed from union mem­bers that their cash was fund­ing an elec­tion cam­paign.

Mr Shorten was also asked about the union’s EBAs with Clean­event, which saw its union mem­ber­ship triple.

The com­mis­sion has pre­vi­ously heard that Mr Shorten signed an EBA with Clean­event which locked ca­sual clean­ers into a pay­ment of $ 18.14 per hour in­stead of the $ 50.17 they were en­ti­tled to un­der a later award. Clean­event paid the union $ 25,000 in a sep­a­rate deal to add the clean­ers’ names to the union mem­ber­ship ros­ter, which boosted Mr Shorten’s votes within the ALP.

Yesterday, Mr Shorten said he was un­sure if the clean­ers had been given a box to tick to opt out of the union. Also yesterday, a for­mer Clean­event ex­ec­u­tive claimed the com­pany had a sweet­heart deal with the union which meant its staff were trapped into re­ceiv­ing $ 18 an hour when ri­vals were pay­ing $ 10 an hour more.

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