ALP accused of giving more jobs to union mates
A STRING of current and former union heavyweights have been given influential and often highly paid roles on government boards.
Controversial CFMEU official Jade Ingham - appointed to the Queensland Building and Construction Commission board - joins more than a dozen unionists hand-picked by the Palaszczuk Government for plum positions.
They include Labor Party State President John Battams, a union chief for decades, whose role as a director with Queensland Investment Corporation carried a $109,464 package last year.
Queensland Teachers Union Vice-President Samantha Pidgeon sits on the board of Seqwater for $60,499 a year in salary and benefits, while Queensland Council of Unions General Secretary Ros McLennan was this year promoted to the $56,000 Deputy Chair of WorkCover.
"This isn't just jobs for the boys, it looks like the whole picket line has got a gig," State Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said.
"The unions have given more than $5 million to Labor directly in donations in the last four years as well as third-party campaigns on behalf of Annastacia Palaszczuk and their reward is board appointments, favours and pro-union laws.
"Unions have put their people into every corner of the Labor Government and they're looking after themselves - not the public. Under Annastacia Palaszczuk, we're seeing government by the unions, for the unions.
"Ordinary Queenslanders don't get a look in. For example, taxpayers had to foot a massive $40 million overtime at Queensland Rail because Labor won't stand up to the train drivers' union," Ms Frecklington said yesterday.
Mr Battams is one of the ALP's most powerful figures who also sits on the board of a series of companies that manages the party's financial investments.
His spell on the QIC board is due to end this September.
Ms McLennan was joined as WorkCover director last year by Ben Swan, who this month stepped down as Queensland branch secretary of the Australian Workers' Union five years after replacing stalwart Labor powerbroker Bill Ludwig.
Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland Head of Industry Dan Petrie said appointments to government boards must avoid the appearance of political influence.
A Palaszczuk Government spokeswoman said all appointments were based on merit.
"The Government draws on a broad spectrum of qualified people when considering board appointments."
INDUSTRY STUNNED BY ALP CHOICE
BUILDING and property sector leaders have been shocked by the appointment of a militant union official Jade Ingham to the board of Queensland Building and Construction Commission, despite him having been singled out by the Federal Court over unlawful industrial action.
Master Builders Queensland chief executive Grant Galvin said: "My phone has rung hot with members asking if the Government is actually serious about this or is this just a mistake."
"I am unsure why the Government would choose any individual, no matter what their background, when a judge describes their behaviour as confronting, threatening and intimidatory.
"The QBCC is a critical part of our industry and it needs board members who believe in the rule of law."
Property Council Queensland executive director Chris Mountford said: "Central to the QBCC's success has been its ability to work with stakeholders as an honest broker and drive home positive outcomes. Any moves which upset the balance or independence of the Commission are of concern to the property sector."
Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland head of industry Dan Petrie said that the appointment of a union official with a history of flouting the law "sends the worst possible message".
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the Labor Party appointment showed Queenslanders what life would be like under a Shorten Government.
The Courier-Mail contacted the CFMEU for comment yesterday, but calls were not returned.