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Kitching slams union royal commission

AAP logoAAP 9/11/2016 Belinda Merhab

Controversial new Labor senator Kimberley Kitching has used her first speech in parliament to slam the trade union royal commission and accuse Malcolm Turnbull of being a fake.

The lawyer and former Health Services Union official was named in the Heydon royal commission report and her selection as a replacement for veteran Labor figure Stephen Conroy in the Senate has been used by the coalition to attack Labor over its union links.

Senator Kitching on Wednesday vowed to work toward eliminating corruption, asking who would guard the guardians.

"Our current prime minister knows very well what damage an unchecked, unaccountable royal commission can do.

"As Kerry Packer's lawyer, he penned for that great Australian the famous denunciation of the Costigan royal commission.

"It serves only to make his current position all the more remarkable."

She said that, like the rest of the nation, she was disappointed to find Mr Turnbull was "not the man he pretended to be".

"While Mr Turnbull now finds himself pretending that the Heydon royal commission was a credible process just to score some cheap political points, on this side of the chamber we know the truth about the Australian union movement."

Senator Kitching said she was proud of her two years as a union representative, recalling a phone call she once received from a mother of four, whose boss had changed her roster without notice, and the agony in her voice about not being able to pick up her children.

The Heydon royal commission made a number of findings against the HSU of which Ms Kitching was the general manager of the Victoria No 1 branch.

The Fair Work Commission found in a case last year some of Ms Kitching's evidence to be "unreliable and untruthful".

Former Abbott government employment minister Eric Abetz has given notice that he will move a motion in the Senate regarding Senator Kitching, calling on anyone appearing before the Fair Work Commission to "provide reliable and truthful evidence".

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