MUA denies slush fund allegations

By: Paul Howell

The Maritime Union’s day at the Royal Commission focuses on payments to a training arm.

MUA denies slush fund allegations
MUA national secretary Paddy Crumlin believes there is little substance to the allegations.


The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) had its first appearance at the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption yesterday, batting away suggestions it had demanded million dollar payments in return for industrial peace with several oil and gas sector employers.

The Commission is specifically investigating payments made to Maritime Employees Training Limited, a training organisation set up by MUA leaders, and the Fremantle Special Purpose Fund, which allegedly subsidises the ordinary operating activities of the WA branch of the MUA.

Counsel assisting the commission Jeremy Stoljar presented four specific case studies in which employers contributed funds to these entities, alleging the payments offered no tangible benefit for workers or employers. 

One company, Australian maritime services provider Dredging International, even sponsored the union’s annual delegates’ conference.

"The commission will receive evidence that this payment, and others like it to the Special Purpose Fund, were made for no appreciable benefit to the company other than the intangible benefit of being seen to maintain a working relationship with the MUA," Stoljar told the commission in his opening statement.

MUA national secretary Paddy Crumlin says the union is co-operating fully with the investigation, but believes there is little substance to the allegations.

He described the Royal Commission as "a waste of time and money".

"The whole thing really seems to be about attacking the MUA because we want to train Australians to work in an Australian industry - the hydro-carbon industry - and any employer that's co-operating with us to deliver that training is being called into the witness box," he says.

"All of our finances are transparent. It all goes to the interests of the membership, and every dollar that came out of the negotiations with these employers trained young Australian men and women to work in their own country."

The Royal Commission has not scheduled any further hearings on the MUA.

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