The Hon. Rob Lucas MLC

The Hon

Rob Lucas MLC

Treasurer

Speeches

Ministerial appointments

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (15:29): I want to talk about the Steven Bradbury of the Labor Party, the Hon. Russell Wortley, the last man standing, evidently about to become a minister. This man, the Hon. Mr Wortley, is a man of infinitely flexible principles and beliefs. He is now a member of the right, but when one goes back to an edition of Green Left, 9 November 1994, by Chris Spindler, it says, and I quote:

A new left faction of the Labor Party, the Progressive Labor Alliance, has formed in South Australia following the walkout of a section from the existing left faction. The walkout includes 14 unions and state parliamentarian Peter Duncan.

The leader of the new faction was Mr Russell Wortley. Mr Wortley is quoted as follows:

I respect that point of view, and at times I'm quite ashamed of the direction that the Labor Party has taken. But sometimes the fight has to be fought inside the Labor Party. There is no point in deserting the Labor Party; otherwise there [will be] nothing to restrain the Labor Party from drifting off into the right. At least we have some influence to stop some of the direction.

So says Russell Wortley, convener of the hard left faction, the Duncan left faction, in 1994—the first of many factions he has enjoyed in the Labor Party.

I think it is fair to say that the Hon. Mr Wortley has a hard-earned reputation. He is most interested in the perks and benefits for himself in just about any job that he has been involved with. In recent years, I think the toughest decision he has had each day is working out, with Senator Dana Wortley, which particular taxpayer-funded car or benefits in travel and accommodation allowance they are going to use on that particular day. His colleagues are already joking as to how many interstate and overseas trips he will manage to squeeze in between tomorrow and 2014.

I want to go back to the Hon. Mr Wortley's time at the Federated Gas Employees Industrial Union in the early nineties to demonstrate, I guess, the point I am making that, at that particular time anyway, he showed a lot of interest in squeezing every last dollar he could out of that union, in terms of the perks and benefits for himself. Documents from that particular time showed that there were two full-time employees of that union: himself and Mr Moriarty.

They had, as part of their package: their salary; the union-paid superannuation; a gratuity; nine weeks per year of service to be paid when leaving the union, regardless of reason; private health cover; an annual clothing allowance, a fully-funded motor vehicle—a VM Commodore, fully maintained and renewed every two years; telephone with full rental and calls; five weeks annual leave plus 20 per cent leave loading; rostered days off; a 38-hour week and 19-day month, and all the rostered days off could be accumulated and taken at Christmas time; and sick leave of 15 days per year, which could be taken without a medical certificate. All the unused sick leave could be accumulated or paid out each year and all the sick leave could be paid out upon the termination of employment. They had living away from home allowances, meals, taxis, accommodation, etc.—the normal range of benefits.

Now, they were being strongly opposed by the hard-working members of Mr Wortley's union. In a memorandum distributed to all members of the union:

Why are we paying the highest union fees in the country? Where is all our money going? If you are interested...read on.

Almost 100 per cent of our money goes to pay two officials who are apparently entitled to:

Extremely high salaries Paid by us

Excessive superannuation Paid by us

Gratuity payments Paid by us

Top level medical benefits Paid by us

Clothing allowances Paid by us

Five weeks annual leave Paid by us.

Can you take all your RDOs at Christmas? No.

Can you get your sick leave paid out? No.

These are rorts!!!. Our officials enjoy benefits way above anything that they have never argued for us. It is time to lift the lid on these—

and I think there are defamatory words there, which I will not use,

(something) practices at the expense of workers. Fair go, Dan!!! What about the workers? On behalf of the rank and file members of the FGEIU.

Now, at the time, in August 1993, the Victorian secretary of that particular union expressed his concern in a memorandum regarding the salary and other entitlements. He identified the enormous accrued benefits attributed to Messrs Moriarty and Wortley. He expressed his concern that a back-hour arrangement provided a gas company with an extraordinary level of influence over the operations of the union, and he also expressed his concern that the balance sheet of the SA branch of the union showed that liabilities in the area of staff entitlements amounted to $201,897.

He pointed out the fact that there were only two full-time employees - Mr Moriarty and Mr Wortley - and one other part-time employee. Similar concerns were also expressed by the New South Wales secretary of that particular union at the time. The challenge for the Hon. Mr Wortley, as the Steven Bradbury of the Labor Party, is to demonstrate that he is prepared to stand up for workers and not just for benefits for himself.
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ROB LUCAS MLC

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