Tollner Needs To Apologise For False Claims Over Trade Union Royal Commission

The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) is deeply concerned by comments today from NT Treasurer Dave Tollner and his desperate attempt to smear political opponents using the Royal Commission into Trade Unions.

The MUA was cleared of engaging in any illegal or unlawful conduct in the royal commission, yet Mr Tollner has today tried to smear the union and by extension, the NT Labor Party, over the Blacktip project off Darwin. 

Mr Tollner’s media release today makes the demonstrably false claim that: “During the construction phase of the project, the Royal Commission was told that $1 million was paid by two sub-contractors to the MUA for training.” – Tollner media release 14/3/2016.

The MUA received no money whatsoever from sub-contractors. The money was held in escrow and then used by a registered training organisation, Maritime Employees Training Ltd (METL).

In addition, the title of Mr Tollner’s media release is also demonstrably false: ‘Royal Commission links former NT Labor Government to MUA slush fund’

In his submissions released in late 2014, Counsel assisting the royal commission Jeremy Stoljar SC said: “The submissions do not raise any concern with the financial management of METL. There is no suggestion that METL is a slush fund for the MUA.”

Mr Stoljar made no submission that the evidence before the Commission in relation to the MUA and its officials demonstrated any offence or breach of any law.

Mr Stoljar said during the MUA’s one and only day appearing at the royal commission in September 2014 that METL had been set up "because there appeared to be a lack of planning for training in the maritime industry and there was a need for a coordinated approach to support growth in the industry, particularly in the oil and gas sector”.

He noted that training for an integrated ratings ticket is cost and labour intensive, taking about 18 months and $77,000 per trainee to qualify, and that the union had set up the fund to build up domestic labour supply to meet the anticipated demands of future projects.

MUA NT Branch Secretary Thomas Mayor said today: “As the Federal Election draws nearer, Liberal politicians will stop at nothing to smear their political opponents.

“Any capable student of history can see that Mr Tollner’s claims today are full of lies and he needs to apologise to the NT community for deliberately misleading them.

“The MUA makes no apology for negotiating hard to ensure companies meet their obligations to train Australian workers and evidence from industry presented at the royal commission noted that payments for training were solely used to train Australian workers through METL.

“Unlike the NT Government and their federal counterparts, there are still employers out there who believe it is in their interest, and the national interest, to work with unions to train local workers.

“This is a bit rich coming from someone who was complicit in the selling out of the Port of Darwin to Chinese interests - if anyone’s a risk in the Northern Territory it’s Adam Giles and Dave Tollner.”