John Howard has finally admitted to conspiring with Christopher Corrigan to bust the Maritime Union of Australia in 1998, Paddy Crumlin, the union's National Secretary said today.
Mr Crumlin said Mr Howard’s memoir Lazarus Rising, which devotes a 15-page chapter to the dispute, was the first time the former prime minister has admitted to an official meeting with Patrick’s Chris Corrigan prior to the lock-out on the wharves.
Mr Crumlin said the major admission came on page 292 of his book, where he states that he and Peter Reith met Mr Corrigan in Howard’s office in Canberra ‘during the latter half of 1997’.
“Until now, Howard had only admitted to one official meeting with Corrigan, which Reith has claimed was on 29 April 1998, on the eve of the High Court hearing that upheld the Federal Court finding that there was an arguable case of unlawful conspiracy,” Mr Crumlin said.
“This fresh disclosure also means that Howard misled parliament.
“The chapter is full of unsupported allegations about the waterfront and the union, many of which can be shown to be completely untrue. His ongoing falsification of the co-operative reform process that occurred under the Hawke Labor government, for example, is risible.
“But even where Howard reveals new information, he raises more questions than he answers.
“On page 294, for example, he says that no-one in his government knew about the Dubai training operation and that Reith was advised and publicly announced that Corrigan was not involved.
“In the next paragraph, Howard writes that ‘Dubai told me that Corrigan was serious about reform’.
How then did Howard know that Corrigan was involved?
“Until now, no-one in Howard’s government has admitted to knowing about Corrigan’s involvement in the Dubai debacle before Corrigan himself publicly confessed two months later, in February 1998.
“Howard also admits that one of the government’s consultants apparently knew about the Dubai operation. This could only refer to Stephen Webster, who was seconded from Pratt Industries to
provide advice on waterfront reform.”
Mr Crumlin said the 82-page Webster report was submitted to the Howard government in October 1997 and has remained confidential.
He called on the Gillard government to release the Webster report to clear the air.
Media contacts: Paddy Crumlin 0418 379 660; Justin Coomber 0457 833 896; Zoe Reynolds
0417 229 873.