Political witch-hunt: Harkins

UNIONS Tasmania secretary Kevin Harkins has attacked calls for an inquiry into organised labour despite reports of links between Australia's construction union and bikie gangs.

 A joint Fairfax Media and ABC investigation has uncovered allegations of corruption with the CFMEU's construction division in NSW and Victoria.

Yesterday in Hobart federal Employment Minister Eric Abetz said the government had not yet decided whether to hold a royal commission into the allegations. 

However, he called on Labor and the Greens to back the reintroduction of the union-despised Australian Building and Construction Commission axed by the former government.

``Stop running this protection racket for corrupt union officials and let's get on with the business of cleaning up elements of the trade union movement,'' he said.

Mr Harkins said any inquiry would be a waste of taxpayers' money given previous recent investigations into unions had failed to score a single conviction.

``This is nothing more than a political witch-hunt and is all about attacking the rights of workers in Australia, starting with the construction industry,'' he said.

Mr Harkins said he was not aware of any corruption within unions in Tasmania.

Secretary of the CFMEU's joint Victorian and Tasmanian branch John Setka was also defiant in a message to members.

``I'm here to tell you that we are not intimidated by this nonsense,'' Mr Setka said.

The union's national secretary Dave Noonan said any criminal matters would be referred to police.

Tasmania Police would not comment on any possible links between organised crime and unions.  ``Tasmania Police does not discuss its intelligence holdings,'' police Assistant Commissioner Donna Adams said.

Kevin Harkins

Kevin Harkins


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