Commission will hear from Shorten in July

Posted February 14th, 2019 by admin and filed in 杭州夜生活
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The royal commission into union corruption has agreed to fast-track Bill Shorten’s appearance so that he can address a raft of allegations going back to his days as head of the Australian Workers Union.


After a request from his lawyers the opposition leader will appear at the commission on July 8 during parliament’s winter break, rather than August or September.

His lawyer Leon Zwier said Mr Shorten wanted to address “all issues of interest” to the commission.

“Mr Shorten has been advised by me not to answer questions or comment on the issues that may be the subject of his appearance before the commission,” Mr Zwier said.

The Labor leader has been under pressure to explain his role in a number of sweetheart deals the AWU negotiated with employers during his time as secretary of its Victorian branch and later as national secretary.

A leading business figure came to his defence on Thursday.

Tony Shepherd says a workplace agreement he negotiated in 2005 to build the $2.5 billion EastLink road project in Melbourne delivered workers one of the highest rates of pay for any urban construction project and finished the project ahead of schedule.

“It was one of the best projects I have ever been involved in,” he said.

Mr Shepherd, a former Business Council of Australia president and chairman of the Abbott government’s audit commission, was at the time chairman of Connect East that subcontracted Thiess John Holland.

It has been alleged the Shorten-led Australian Workers Union received more than $211,000 from the company after the workplace deal was finalised.

Documents lodged with the Australian Electoral Commission show Thiess John Holland paid the money in donations and “other receipts” in 2006 and 2007.

A Labor source said it was common for companies to make payments for things like occupational health and safety training and trade training.

Mr Shepherd, who continues to advise the government on business, said it was “great agreement” that saw the workers “paid record rates for an urban construction project, gave the employer a lot more flexibility regarding rostering and what have you”.

“We got much, much better productivity and it was delivered five months ahead of schedule.”

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said it was clear the opposition leader had questions to answer before his scheduled appearance at the royal commission.

Labor frontbencher Richard Marles described the Eastlink agreement as impeccable.

“This was an agreement where everyone won,” he told reporters in Canberra.

Labor MP Terri Butler, a lawyer, backed Mr Shorten’s right to remain silent until he appeared before the commission.

It was a “silly proposition” to say someone should attend as a witness at something and then make a number of statements in advance of attending as a witness, she said.

“It just doesn’t happen.”

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