The leader of a key trade union in the building and construction industry in Australia has called on the Abbott government to investigate ‘slush funds’ linked to the LNP.
In a statement released on Wednesday, Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) Construction Secretary Dave Noonan expressed concern that the narrow terms of the Royal Commission appear to exclude slush funds related to the LNP, and said that if Tony Abbott was serious about dealing with corruption, it’s Royal Commission would include Queensland based Walton Construction and Steve Nolan Construction – the former of which media reports say paid $1.4 million in rent to a property trust linked to the ALP prior to collapsing whilst owning workers $2.9 million in wages and entitlements and the latter of which reports say donated $150,000 to the LNP in NSW and $50,000 to the LNP nationally in late 2012 and early 2013 before going into administration owing more than $30 million to workers and small business owners.
Noonan said the collapse of the two companies has had a devastating impact upon workers, and that neither firm should be exempt from the Royal Commission.
“Both Walton Construction and Steve Nolan Construction are in need of some very bright light shone on them,” Noonan said.
“We currently have 200 workers in New South Wales who are owed millions of dollars in lost wages by Steve Nolan Construction. The workers are on the street at two different sites in Sydney protesting against the developer in an attempt to get some of the money they’re owed.
“The terms of reference of the Royal Commission exclude companies in this situation, who have ripped off hundreds of workers and small businesses, from being investigated.
“We call on Mr Abbott to explain why property developers who have donated to LNP slush funds will be excluded from the Royal Commission.”
Noonan’s call follows the Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday of the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption, the Terms of Reference of which allows the Commission to investigate the financial affairs and accountability of trade unions but does not include any reference to any form of corrupt conduct outside of that involving a union.
Whilst such moves were roundly applauded by building industry groups, they are seen by unions as merely being an attack on unions which does nothing to deal with problems such as phoenix activity, sham contracting and companies becoming insolvent whilst owing worker wages.
Placed into liquidation in October last year with debts totalling around $50 million, Walton Constructions paid more than $1.4 million to the Altum Property Trust – the trustee company of which included on its board whose board LNP state party treasurer and Senator-elect Barry O'Sullivan as well as former Liberal Party president Con Galtos and chief of staff for Tourism Minister Jan Stuckey.
A report in the Sunshine Coast Daily quotes LNP Queensland President Bruce McIver as saying the money was paid for rent by the company for its headquarters in Bowen Hills and did not represent any form of donation.
Walton liquidator Lawler Draper Dillon has told creditors it believes the companies had been trading insolvent from July 1, 2012, that report added.
Meanwhile, unpaid workers reportedly owed around $30 million downed tools at a construction site in St. Leonards after Steve Nolan Constructions went into administration.
The Prime Minister’s office did not respond to requests for comment.