Shorten grilled over staffer’s pay donation
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.