Two unions and a super fund involving a union have reaped more than $430,000 in rent for three Labor senators’ electorate offices.
Labor senators Kim Carr, Anne McEwen and Alex Gallacher rented premises respectively from the meat industry union’s superannuation fund; United Voice, a childcare, cleaners and health workers union; and the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA).
Over the past three years they paid a total of $435,460 in rent, figures from the Department of Finance show.
Senator Gallacher’s lease from the SDA was terminated in July last year but the others are ongoing.
The figures were released in response to a Senate estimates hearing question from Nationals senator Bridget McKenzie about how unions had benefited from federal funds under the former Labor government.
Employment Minister Eric Abetz told AAP on Tuesday such arrangements may technically be within the rules.
“But it is clearly not a good look when Labor senators use taxpayers’ money to lease offices that are owned by unions factionally aligned to their own,” Senator Abetz said.
“This raises legitimate questions of whether certain deals have been done between Labor MPs and union bosses that involve the use of public money in this way.”
Senator Carr told AAP he had legitimately rented his Melbourne office from an industry superannuation fund for two decades.
“It’s not true to say I rent it from a union. I rent it from an industry super fund which is the owner of the building,” Senator Carr said.
“The fund is 50-50 run by the union and industry.”