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Telemarketing firm wins CFMEU access

2008-06-28 08:00:00

Militant unionist Kevin Reynolds has allowed a telemarketing firm run by the son of his close friend, disgraced former Labor MP Norm Marlborough, access to his more than 7000 members in Western Australia.

The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union in Perth is now in business with Richard Marlborough's Members Alliance, a mortgage broker specialising in Queensland property deals.

While union members across Australia already have special access to banking products through the similarly named Members Equity, Members Alliance was established in partnership with the CFMEU in Perth in 2006 to sell the union's members property investment opportunities, loans, insurance and financial planning products.

The CFMEU receives a dividend on any profits, though the amount is not shown on publicly available union accounts.

Mr Reynolds hung up when contacted about the company yesterday.

He was more forthcoming in March 2006, in a letter to members that stated: "Over time, each Member Alliance group will be in contact with you to see if you wish to avail yourself of their services but you don't have to wait. Feel free to contact Members Alliance ... to arrange an obligation-free meeting."

Richard Marlborough is the director and secretary of Members Alliance Incorporated Pty Ltd. His company Astro Holdings has two shares in it; the CFMEU has 100.

His father Norm, the former small business minister forced out of Labor in 2006 over his improper dealings with Brian Burke, has been a close friend of Mr Reynolds and his wife, MP Shelley Archer, for years.

The finances of the CFMEU in Western Australia appear healthy. It ran at a surplus of almost $985,000 last year, compared with a surplus of less than $30,000 in 2006, according to a publicly available income statement.

While work is plentiful and wages are high in Perth's construction industry thanks to the state's boom, Mr Reynolds, 59, faces his most serious threat yet to his position as state secretary at the union election in September.

Mr Reynolds last week called police and the CFMEU's lawyers to investigate if his challenger at the coming union election, Darren Kavanagh, had broken the law by accessing the union's membership list for an election flyer.

Mr Kavanagh, 38, is a former protege of Mr Reynolds, whose campaign for "generational change" plays on the perception that things have gone staleduring Mr Reynolds's 35 years at the head of the Builders Labourers Federation, then CFMEU. Mr Kavanagh's campaign has also drawn members' attention to Mr Reynolds's close friendship with disgraced former premier Brian Burke, who was for years on a retainer to the CFMEU as a consultant, until explosive revelations in the Corruption and Crime Commission about his influence over ministers.

Among those to be sacked over their improper dealings with Mr Burke was Norm Marlborough.

Richard Marlborough said yesterday that those who had signed on with Members Alliance, including members of the general public who had been contacted via telemarketing, had done "very well".

Asked what methods Members Alliance used to contact CFMEU members, Mr Marlborough denied that his company had the union's membership list.

"We got them through advertising in their union magazine and through mailouts," he said.

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