Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union assistant national secretary Glenn Thompson has filled the last National Reconstruction Fund Corporation board position more than two months after the appointments were announced.
Mr Thompson has been in his role at the union since 2004 and is also on the board of Australian Super, UCover, and the Australian Construction Industry Trust. He is also the Australian Shipbuilding Federation of Unions National Convenor.
He has also had experience on the boards of Cbus, Coal Mining Industry (Long Service Leave Funding) Corporation, and the Construction Industry and Property Services Industry Skills Council.
Mr Thompson will serve a four-year term on the National Reconstruction Fund (NRF) Corporation board.
There are now two National Reconstruction Fund Corporation board directors with a union background. Mr Thompson will sit alongside Daniel Walton, who was until recently the Australian Workers Union secretary.
In addition to the chair of the board, there can be no more than eight other directors and no less than six. It was unclear the government planned to appoint another board member until a document detailing vacancies in the Industry portfolio was released on Wednesday.
Chair Martijn Wilder will be paid $128,120 per annum for his time, while the other board members will receive just under half as much at $63,690, according to the document.
Industry and Science minister Ed Husic and Finance minister Katy Gallagher are responsible for making the final appointment of board members. The initial talent-search was led by NGS Global.
Mr Husic or his office did not provide an explanation as to why this appoint has come two and a half months after the first announcement when asked by InnovationAus.com.
In a statement, Mr Husic said the board has the “right mix of skills, and the ability to balance policy and financial objectives” that would ensure the success of the NRF Corporation.
“Mr Thompson’s passion for job creation complements the existing expertise of the NRF Board, particularly in the areas of Australian manufacturing and industrial capability,” Mr Husic said.
At the announcement of the other board member in August, Mr Husic said the board directors had been selected to represent a diverse number of states and for areas of expertise that aligned with the seven named priority industries of the fund.
In response to the appointment, shadow minister for industry Sussan Ley accused the government of stacking the board with mates of the Labor party and said the union representatives were on a “tax-payer funded gravy train”.
“Labor have designed the NRF to be an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, given its glacial roll out and the alarm bells across Australian industry by the time it actually does something there might not be much left to reconstruct,” Ms Ley said.
“Labor can never credibly talk about ‘jobs for mates’ again, because when it counts they picked middle aged men from the unions over capable and immensely qualified women.”
In response to the accusations, a spokesperson for Mr Husic described the board as “strong and diverse”, representing many different backgrounds.
“Australians from all walks of life have an interest in Australia being a place that makes things. We want to engage a wide range of people as possible to make this a success,” the spokesperson said.
The Liberal and National parties opposed the NRF Corporation Bill from the outset and did not enter negotiations with Industry and Science minister Ed Husic on the potential implementation of amendments.
Last December, Liberal Senator Andrew Bragg penned a dissenting report on the NRF Corporation Bill, calling for the discretionary power of ministers to appoint board members to be removed.
In that report, he warned that Mr Husic had previously “appointed a union official to the National Robotics Strategy Advisory Committee, a highly technical field, where that official’s expertise was not well-credentialled”.
Unions and industry groups had also expressed concern during the consultation about the discretionary power of the ministers to appoint the members of the board. The Australian Council of Trade Unions also said the fund could be used as “a slush fund”, diminishing its effectiveness at developing local industry.
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