Alister Henskens portrait
Alister Henskens portrait

Leader Of The Opposition

No Parking Sign


Mr ALISTER HENSKENS ( Ku-ring-gai ) ( 15:33 :24 ): My motion should be accorded priority because there is a systemic problem of the Labor Party, the union movement and the Leader of the Opposition disregarding the law. In recent years, more than 10 Labor members of Parliament from New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia have been convicted of serious offences with jail penalties. The offences have included corruption, theft, misconduct in public office and serious sexual offences—

TEMPORARY SPEAKER ( Mr Bruce Notley-Smith ): Order! The member for Blacktown will come to order.

Mr ALISTER HENSKENS: —and they have been committed by members of Parliament including Eddie Obeid, Ian Macdonald, Milton Orkopoulos, Craig Thompson, Rex Jackson, Brian Burke, Keith Wright, Bill D'Arcy and Gordon Nuttall.

TEMPORARY SPEAKER ( Mr Bruce Notley-Smith ): Order! I place the member for Blacktown on three calls to order.

Mr ALISTER HENSKENS: Recent events have shown that there is now a contagion of support for illegal conduct by the union movement and its political arm, the Australian Labor Party [ALP], in New South Wales. Since 2003 the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union [CFMEU] has been fined a total of $8.2 million for its breaches of the law. It has also breached court orders on more than 100 occasions. The union movement controls the selection of ALP members in this House. The union movement donated a total of more than $2 million to the ALP at the New South Wales 2015 State election, and the CFMEU's share was about $200,000. The Opposition leader and the new Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary, Sally McManus, are very close. Sally McManus was asked recently whether she believed in the rule of law, given the CFMEU's criminal history and connections to organised crime. In order to be in lock step with the CFMEU, she said:

I believe in the rule of law where the law is fair and the law is right. But when it's unjust, I don't think there is a problem with breaking it.

Malcolm Turnbull, Bill Shorten and Daniel Andrews all immediately denounced her comments. But the anarchy advocated by Sally McManus has been endorsed by her friend the New South Wales Leader of the Opposition, the member for Blue Mountains, the member for Port Stephens, the member for Prospect, and the secretary of NSW Labor.

The disrespect for the law contagion spread today when the leader of the NSW Teachers Federation was reported as saying that he supported illegal strikes when he said, "Civil disobedience is not our problem—our problem is civil obedience." We need to know whether the Leader of the Opposition supports our laws, including laws to keep the people and property of this State safe, or whether he says it is okay to break those laws. We need to know whether he will support people who obey the law or whether he will keep supporting unlawful unions and keep receiving their tainted money as ALP donations. These matters scream out for priority consideration.


Mr ALISTER HENSKENS ( Ku-ring-gai ) ( 15:45 :31 ): I move:

That this House:

(1)Condemns the Leader of the Opposition for his deafening silence in response to statements by his former colleague and current Australian Council of Trade Unions Secretary Sally McManus endorsing illegal conduct including illegal industrial action.

(2)Condemns the Leader of the Opposition for breaking his election commitment to disclose his diary every two months, including a complete failure to disclose it for seven months until called out by the Premier.

3)Condemns the Leader of the Opposition for saying nothing about his friend Ian Macdonald for years after he first held serious concerns about the former Minister's conduct.

What would a world look like if people only respected laws that they liked or thought were acceptable? Imagine what would happen if someone went to watch their favourite sporting team play a game and the competitors played only by the rules that they thought were fair? How would the umpires and referees adjudicate? Our complex society surely can only operate if we all follow the same rules made by Parliament and the courts. Otherwise, for example, people would be driving on different sides of the road. It would be impossible to predict the behaviour of others. It would be chaos. But a world without the rule of law is what the union movement and the Leader of the Opposition think should be the case in New South Wales.

I have already spoken to the House today about the ideas of rampant unlawfulness that are endemic to the union movement and the Australian Labor Party [ALP]. The Leader of the Opposition and the new Australian Council of Trade Unions [ACTU] Secretary, Sally McManus, are very close. They are both from the New South Wales Socialist Left faction of the ALP and spent seven years working together at the New South Wales branch of the Australian Services Union. The Leader of the Opposition publicly supported McManus for her new job. On 12 March 2017, McManus posted this on Facebook:

Today the front page of the ... Telegraph in Sydney exposed the shocking plans of unions. It alleged the Unions have the ALP and their leader Luke Foley in their pocket ... We have been exposed and have had to concede they are right.

It is no coincidence then that the Leader of the Opposition has not prior to today denounced Sally McManus' views on anarchy and disrespect for the law. I remind the House of what she said:

I believe in the rule of law where the law is fair and the law is right. But when it's unjust, I don't think there i s a problem with breaking it.

The behaviour of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union [CFMEU] in breaching over 100 court orders and receiving $8.2 million in fines since 2003 should be condemned by any person who claims to be fit to lead the Government of our State. The CFMEU has 47 current proceedings against it for breaking the law and not one of them involves protesting against a fatality on a work site. The CFMEU has been convicted of many offences unrelated to industrial protest, including offences involving violence in people's homes. The CFMEU is the successor organisation to the Builders Labourers Federation, which was deregistered for its links to organised crime. Amazingly, the CFMEU has nearly $90 million in assets and concerns persist about its links to organised crime, including outlaw motorcycle gangs. With this background, the Leader of the Opposition must abandon his mate, Sally McManus, and denounce this unlawful union. With these connections to the ALP, it should be no surprise that its culture of unlawful behaviour would breed an Ian Macdonald or an Eddie Obeid.

It is very concerning that Ian Macdonald was the political father of the Leader of the Opposition. The Leader of the Opposition supported Ian Macdonald at his preselection meeting and said nothing about his concerns about Macdonald's probity. The whistle was blown by Labor Senator Doug Cameron who was also at the meeting. On 27 March 2013, Senator Cameron said this on ABC radio:

I'm very angry about it. Very, very angry. I'm angry because my union has been drawn into this and if Luke Foley had these serious concerns about the probity of Ian Macdonald in 2006 why did he say nothing about it at the meeting and why did he say nothing for three years after that meeting?

What Luke Foley said yesterday about a chorus of complaints, about a loss of moral compass, about the abandonment of Labor principles was not put at that meeting. In fact Luke Foley was very quiet at that meeting. There was certainly no warnings. And I have to say to you if then at that meeting people like myself, George Campbell, Anthony Albanese and Paul Bastian did nothing then he should have done something about it. These are people of the highest propriety and I must say I reject completely the view that's being perpetrated out there that Luke Foley was some white knight and everyone and I kept Macdonald alive. There was a consensus position adopted and Luke Foley was part of that consensus and he should have opposed it two years ago.

The other aspect of this motion is the election promise by the Opposition leader to disclose his diary every two months that he did not honour for seven months. The Opposition leader only disclosed it after being pushed by the Premier. It shows that the Opposition leader is not fit to lead this State. The motion condemning the Opposition leader should be upheld by the House. [Time expired.]

Mr MICHAEL DALEY ( Maroubra ) ( 15:51 :09 ): I have been known to get fired up in this House, it must be my Irish heritage. This is as underwhelming a motion as I have ever been involved with. I feel sorry for the member for Ku-ring-gai because he has been suckered. How the mighty have fallen. I was a junior backbencher too. It must irk senior counsel to sit with the riffraff and flotsam and jetsam waiting for his turn on the front bench. If the member for Ku-ring-gai cannot get a start in the C-grade outfit that this factional Premier has stitched up the member must be doing something wrong.

Someone in the Premier's office is trying to stitch up the member for Ku-ring-gai. I recall being a junior backbencher and becoming excited when the Premier's office called and asked if I could lead the motion accorded priority—previously an urgency motion. You run down to the Chamber all enthused but after you read the Hansard you ask, "What the hell was I doing?" And, "Why did I not send it back and say 'Give it to some other sucker'?" I predict that in a few years time when the member for Ku-ring-gai is on to the front bench with the F team he will look back and realise he was today's sucker. If the Premier was concerned about this she would be present in the Chamber. If the Government had any gumption there would be more than the three amigos on the other side of the Chamber looking like a bad episode of The Muppets. Years ago the member for Ku-ring-gai was paid $3,000 or $4,000 a day for appearing in court.

Mr Gareth Ward: Point of order: My point of order is Standing Order 76. The House is awaiting an august defence of the Leader of the Opposition. I ask you to call the member for Maroubra back to the leave of the motion. I know it is difficult for him because they cannot stand each other, but I ask the member to give it a go.

TEMPORARY SPEAKER ( Mr Bruce Notley-Smith ): Order! I uphold the point of order and direct the member for Maroubra to return to the leave of the motion.

Mr MICHAEL DALEY: One thing I am sure the member for Ku-ring-gai learnt at law school was not to be loose with the truth. The member for Ku-ring-gai says that the Leader of the Opposition has been silent with regard to Ms McManus' comments. Let me set the record straight. On 17 March in the Daily Telegraph Jason Tin reported Bill Shorten as stating:

I do not agree with her... if you think a law is unjust or unfair, then you change the law. We are very lucky to live in a country like Australia which has a democratic process. If you don't like the law, change the government and then change the law. That is the way to do business, not to break the law.

Jason Tin sought comment from the Leader of the Opposition. The Leader of the Opposition is reported as saying:

I agree with Bill. The best way to change the laws that you don't agree with is to change the Government at election time.

Jason Tin reported in the Daily Telegraph, "Mr Foley echoed Mr Shorten's remarks." I do not understand the member for Ku-ring-gai's comment of "deafening silence". Labor should move an amendment stating "condemns the Leader of the Opposition for his deafening silence, except for his comments in a national newspaper condemning Sally McManus for her comments".

Mr Alister Henskens: The best way to change the law is to change the Government, that is what he agreed with.

Mr MICHAEL DALEY: The member for Ku-ring-gai should be interjecting. The member is turning red and has every right to turn a bright shade of red. He has been sucker punched by his own team. They are not content to leave him withering away on the backbench but have the member delivering embarrassing motions such as this. This is an embarrassing day for the member for Ku-ring-gai. It speaks volumes of a Government confronted with a litany of problems such as hospitals, schools, TAFE, overcrowding in prisons, congestion on roads, debacles on major projects and housing affordability. Where is the vision? Where are the bold announcements? Where are the reforms? Where is the narrative of the Berejiklian Government? There is none. They send suckers into the Chamber to move motions such as this. It is a siren call to everyone in New South Wales that the Berejiklian Government has stalled and is waiting for the bus to arrive.


Mr ALISTER HENSKENS ( Ku-ring-gai ) ( 16:02 :42 ): In reply: The House should note a couple of basic facts that have arisen today. Firstly, the Leader of the Opposition has not only not denounced Sally McManus' statements at any time but he did not come into this Chamber to vote against a motion condemning him for not doing so. The member for Maroubra said the Leader of the Opposition denounced Sally McManus but the Leader of the Opposition said, I agree with Shorten "the best way to change the law is to change the government." He did not say that Sally McManus was wrong to incite people to break the law. With the greatest respect, although they really do not deserve any, the member for Maroubra and the member for Liverpool have completely failed to understand that very fundamental and basic point.

The first paragraph of the motion that seeks to condemn the Leader of the Opposition for his deafening silence has not only been made out historically but has also been made out by his failure to come into this Chamber and vote against the motion or to stand up and condemn what Sally McManus said. Sally McManus incited people to break the law. It is nothing short of a civil insurrection to encourage people to break the law. It is a complete disgrace that the alternative Premier of this State would not defend the laws of this Parliament and the laws of the courts of this State in this Chamber.

The member for Liverpool, the man who thinks 18C is eighteenth century, is in the Chamber. He clearly cannot read his own notes. What was very telling in this debate is what the member for Epping said, which was that the standard you walk by is the standard you accept. The fact that the Leader of the Opposition has not denounced the incitement to disobedience of the law by the ACTU Secretary, Sally McManus is a real problem and is particularly important. But that is because of the rivers of gold that flow from the unions to the Australian Labor Party. It is the $2 million worth of donations during the last New South Wales State election, it is $200,000 that was given by the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union [CFMEU], it is the almost $90 million in assets that the ALP wants the benefit of, which is held by the CFMEU, and that is why the House ought to agree to this motion.