The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (15:34): On 24 September last, I spoke on what I said was the pervasive influence and arrogance of the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association within the Labor Party and the Rann government. On that occasion I said:
We can see the tentacles of the SDAEA everywhere in terms of the government, the party machine. Its influence is growing like a cancer throughout the Labor Party and the Rann government. It is using the Rann government’s offices, departments and agencies as a de facto job network for the SDAEA, their friends and relatives. There is growing anger … about the increasing arrogance and power of the Right and, in particular, the SDAEA in terms of the Labor Party.
Since that speech in September last year, I am indebted to a number of sources within the broader labour movement who have continued to provide information to the opposition in relation to the arrogance and pervasive influence of the SDA and the Right within the Rann government. I refer to the most recent financial statements for the financial year 2007-08 submitted by the SDA to the Australian Industrial Registry. In particular, I refer members to note 10 and to those financial statements under the heading ‘Related party transactions’, which states:
In May 2008, the executive approved a termination payment for Don Farrell.
The payment was proposed by Don Farrell based on payments generally made to previous departing secretaries. The formula suggested by Don Farrell was one month’s pay for each year of service. The payment was in addition to his normal pay and leave entitlements.
The total amount was $59,701.04.
Legal advice is currently being sought whether a payment of this nature is appropriate for a non-profit organisation.
I repeat that: ‘Legal advice is being sought whether a payment of this nature is appropriate for a non-profit organisation.’
I will also quote from a letter to Mr Peter Malinauskas (the now secretary) from the Statutory Services Branch, dated 17 March this year, and signed by Kay Donelan. In that statement, under the heading ‘Notes to the financial statements—related party transactions’, the representative of the Australian Industrial Registry states:
I note the reference to a termination payment, the method of calculation and the legal advice being sought by the branch.
I think the obvious question that needs to be asked in relation to this is: why on earth are the hardworking members and workers of the SDA union making a termination payment of nearly $60,000 to the former secretary of that particular union—someone who has not lost his job? There has been no restructure. The position was filled by Mr Peter Malinauskas. There has been no restructure and there is no redundancy. He moved from the cushy job of a union secretary straight into the even cushier position in the federal Senate—
The Hon. J.S.L. Dawkins interjecting:
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: —with additional payments and salary, as my colleague the Hon. Mr Dawkins has indicated, as well. So, it is not as if the man has lost his job. It is not as if the job has been restructured; it is not as if the job has been replaced; it is not as if he was dismissed. So, all normal explanations for a redundancy payment would not appear to apply to Mr Don Farrell, who moved seamlessly into a very well-paid job in the federal Senate.
I would have thought that it would be useful if the Hon. Mr Finnigan in this place (one of the representatives of the SDA)—given that he was assistant secretary of the SDA at the time this particular decision was taken, I assume—was able to indicate on some later occasion the basis and the explanation for this. For example, what are the taxation arrangements in relation to this $60,000 payment to Mr Farrell? There is clearly some concern, because legal advice is now being sought as to whether or not this was an appropriate payment to Mr Farrell.
I also refer to the financial accounts, because there was evidently also payment for or the provision of a motor vehicle to a former employee of the SDA. I hasten to say that that is not the Hon. Mr Finnigan or, indeed, anyone employed by the Hon. Mr Finnigan. Again, it would be useful for the Hon. Mr Finnigan at some later stage to confirm my view that the provision of a car was not made to him or any former staff of the SDA employed by the member.