It has been revealed that the Albanese Government is finalising its picks for the board of its $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund behind closed doors with a decision by Cabinet imminent. This follows an initial list of proposed board candidates being handed to Industry Minister Ed Husic and Finance Minister Katy Gallagher.

Ed Husic and Katy Gallagher must be upfront about the process they have undertaken, whether suitable candidates have been rejected and replaced with Labor affiliates already and rule out using the board positions to reward their union allies.

The concerns follow evidence at Senate Estimates from Department of Industry Secretary Meghan Quinn that none of the National Reconstruction Fund positions were formally advertised.

Given the Albanese Government’s appalling record on jobs for mates the Deputy Leader of the Opposition Sussan Ley is calling on Industry Minister Ed Husic and Finance Minister Katy Gallagher to be transparent on all appointments to the National Reconstruction Fund.

“The National Reconstruction Fund will be charged with making massive investments on behalf of the taxpayer, so it is very concerning that the selection of the board is occurring with little to no public transparency,” the Deputy Leader said.

“The fact this decision rests with Ed Husic and Katy Gallagher should send a shiver down the spine of every Australian manufacturer, both have appointed their mates to government boards already and both have a slippery relationship with the truth.

“Anthony Albanese went to the last election with a promise of transparency, how can he look the Australian people in the eye when he is not publicly advertising these positions?”

This is not good enough from a Labor Government that pledged to be the most transparent in history.

As these positions must be approved by Cabinet it is also expected that all Cabinet Ministers recuse themselves from any personal conflict of interest associated with any board members including factional arrangements.

Ed Husic has form when it comes to jobs for mates. He appointed the self-described “socialist” AMWU chief Andrew Dettmer to his National Robotics Strategy Advisory Committee. Dettmer, who has targeted Coalition women with offensive comments, was also appointed by Skills Minister Brendan O’Connor to the Jobs and Skills Australia Consultative Forum. The AMWU is the union which the Assistant Minister for Manufacturing, Senator Tim Ayres, worked at for over two decades.

Ed Husic and Brendan O’Connor are not the only Ministers who have given out jobs for mates paid for by the taxpayer. Katy Gallagher has refused to disclose the names of four individuals she handpicked for taxpayer funded roles on a critical women’s economic security taskforce.

The Opposition revealed that the Women’s Economic Equality Taskforce, which made important contributions to the Federal Budget, was stacked by Katy Gallagher through four secret captain’s picks. Minister Gallagher while she refused to name her four secret captain’s picks she has confirmed the membership of this Taskforce was signed off by the Prime Minister himself.

Incredibly departmental officials confirmed Katy’s four captain’s picks were not on the list of 52 recommended women that the Office for Women in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet had compiled as part of a merit-based process. This is hypocrisy from Minister Gallagher who once said ‘being on a government board should be about what you know, not who you know’.

Members of the Taskforce include former Labor Minister Jenny Macklin and President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions Michele O’Neil. The positions are understood to be remunerated by the taxpayer.

Labor’s track record on jobs for mates is unacceptable and Ed Husic and Katy Gallagher need to rule out doing the same when it comes to the board of the $15 billion National