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Recent cases show why Senate should back ABCC

16 August, 2015

According to the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, senators should support the bill to reintroduce the Office of the Australian Building and Construction Commissioner (ABCC) given the mounting evidence of lawlessness on construction sites.

Kate Carnell AO, CEO of ACCI, said,"in recent months the Trade Union Royal Commission, the Fair Work Commission and courts of law have each revealed cases of gross and unrepentant misbehaviour on construction sites.

"The construction industry is vital to our national economy. Union lawlessness left unchecked results in delayed projects, higher costs and reduced job opportunities. We all pay a price for this behaviour." said Carnell.

Carnell said senators could take action to rein in out-of-control unions by passing the Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Bill 2013, which would reintroduce the ABCC.

"The CFMEU has repeatedly shown that it thinks it is beyond the reach of the law. Recent cases involving the CFMEU make the case to reintroduce the ABCC even more compelling.

"The Federal Court recently handed down fines of $545,000, finding the union and five officials engaged in unlawful coercion at a Grocon housing project in Brisbane. The court noted that neither the CFMEU nor its officials showed any contrition or remorse for their conduct.

"The finding followed a $3.55 million payment by the CFMEU to Grocon to settle a claim against the union for the unlawful blockade of the Myer Emporium project in August 2012, which involved behaviour the Supreme Court of Victoria found constituted criminal contempt of that court.

"The Fair Work Commission recently refused a right-of-entry application from a CFMEU official in Queensland, finding he had demonstrated 'a complete lack of preparedness to comply with the rights and obligations of permit holders'. The Commission also found that the CFMEU had not demonstrated 'any real preparedness to take action to avoid similar behaviour in the future'.

"The Trade Union Royal Commission has heard evidence that it said 'raise[s] fundamental issues about the regulation of the building and construction industry, and the culture of wilful defiance of the law which appears to lie at the core of the CFMEU'. The Royal Commission recommended in its Interim Report that charges be considered against senior CFMEU officials. Without the Royal Commission these cases may never have come to light.

"The business community opposed the former government's decision to abolish the ABCC and our warnings of the adverse consequences that would follow have come home to roost. Left unchecked, unlawful behaviour will result in a loss in construction activity, less efficient spending of tax dollars and more lost production time.

"We urge all senators to take a stand against unlawful behaviour and the tactics of intimidation by passing the bill to restore the ABCC with a full suite of powers to address unlawful industrial action, unlawful picketing, coercion and discrimination."

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