The ALP National Conference in Melbourne has passed a resolution officially confirming what we already knew - that former Resources Minister and ACTU President Martin Ferguson is a disgrace.
Maritime Union of Australia National Secretary Paddy Crumlin and WA Branch Secretary Christy Cain put up the resolution, supported by Australian Workers Union National Secretary Scott McDine.
“Martin Ferguson has repeatedly spoken publicly against ALP policy and in the case of the NSW election, his actions damaged the party’s chances of success,” the motion said.
“Martin Ferguson does not deserve to be considered a Labor elder and must be condemned as a disgraced former Labor politician.
“Debate and disagreement is critical in any political party, but that debate must occur at the appropriate Labor forums not in the public domain.”
Ferguson was controversially appointed to an advisory board of the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) within the 18 months required by the Ministerial Code of Conduct.
Ferguson argues he is not a lobbyist and should therefore be exempt from the rules.
Ferguson also wants to bring back the draconian Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) and was seen by many to have campaigned against the Labor Party in the recent NSW election.
Crumlin today said Ferguson had a massive conflict of interest by taking a role with APPEA and was now looking after his mates in big oil.
“Wake up to yourself, mate,” Crumlin said from the lectern today.
“You’re allowed to disagree and you’re allowed to move on but you can’t leave the territory littered with vitriol and criticism, particularly when you’re working for [big oil and gas companies] - there’s a massive conflict of interest.
“Martin said he was ashamed of the party, well Martin, I am ashamed of you.”
Former MUA Victorian Branch Secretary Kevin Bracken was recently unsuccessful in his bid to have Ferguson expelled.
The WA Branch of the MUA had previously called for Ferguson’s expulsion but the former minister, who resigned from the Gillard Government and became a lobbyist a short time later, was a member of the Victorian ALP.
MUA Branch Secretary Chris Cain today said Ferguson was attacking working people on multiple fronts.
“I want to condemn this man for what he has done and has tried to do to the trade union movement – and not just my union,” Cain said.
“His latest performance was against the white collar workers in tourism when he said let’s get rid of penalty rates.
“The average punter who works the weekend, earns his quid on the weekend, is entitled to penalty rates as far as we’re concerned.
“What about safety in high risk industries such as ours?
“He’s actually stated that Australian jobs must go because wages are too high in our offshore oil and gas – well I’m very proud that we got 30 per cent for our workers in offshore oil and gas.
“I’m very proud that it flows on to other workers in high-risk industries.
“Mr Ferguson should be condemned wholly for his actions against the trade union movement and working class people.”
Ferguson has a long rap sheet when it comes to speaking out against the best interests of the union movement and Labor Party:
June 15, 2015: Ferguson was appointed chairman of Tourism Accommodation Australia and called for penalty rate cuts in the tourism industry according to a report in the The Australian and a report on 6PR WA.
March, 2015: Ferguson appeared in LNP campaign adverts publicly endorsing the stance on privatising poles and wires. While Ferguson disputes that it he purposely appeared in the ads, he never once came out on the record as trying to distance himself from the campaign message. He said he was ashamed of the party.
March 29, 2015: In The Age newspaper, Ferguson accused Luke Foley of “rank opportunism” &“blatant scaremongering” and called for the re-introduction of the ABCC
March 23, 2015: In The Australian on Ferguson compared the CFMEU to the BLF and said the union should be “brought to heel”.
August 30, 2014: Ferguson singled out the MUA in The Australian and backed the Abbott government easing visa requirements for foreign workers on offshore resource projects, labelling union arguments against the moves as “patently absurd’’. He renewed his criticism of unions exploiting their bargaining position to secure huge pay rises on resource projects.
August 20, 2014: In a speech delivered to SEAAOC Ferguson lamented the Fair Work Act and welcomed the Coalition’s improvements and added he would like to seem them go further.
July 25, 2014: In a West Australian report Ferguson criticised the MUA for using strong bargaining positions. He called for bigger fines for unions that pursue unlawful industrial action. It also wants to raise the threshold for protected strikes at major projects, new anti-picketing laws and tougher right-of-entry provisions.
May, 2014: Ferguson condemned the MUA for the WA ALP Motion requesting his dismissal from the party.
February 28, 2014: in AAP Ferguson blamed "rogue" unions for delays to Gorgon. Singling out the MUA he said the MUA was to blame for cost blowouts, despite plenty of evidence to the contrary.