House debates

Tuesday, 18 October 2016


Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Bill 2013, Building and Construction Industry (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2013; Second Reading

5:48 pm

Photo of Malcolm TurnbullMalcolm Turnbull (Wentworth, Liberal Party, Prime Minister) Share this | Hansard source

I rise to conclude the debate on these very important bills. They will ensure that the rule of law prevails in an industry that is essential to our economic growth and future prosperity. This legislation was blocked repeatedly by the previous Senate and consequently was one of the two triggers for July's double dissolution election. We fought the double dissolution election on our workplace reform commitments, which in their effect represent important economic reforms for this country, and we won. There can be no doubt that my government has a mandate for these bills. As has been said many times in this parliament, the government is absolutely committed to doing all that is necessary to bring an end to the culture of lawlessness, intimidation and bullying in the building and construction industry. The passage of these bills into law will ensure that building and construction work is carried out fairly, efficiently, lawfully and productively for all Australians. Taxpayers, consumers, workers and businesses large and small will all benefit from the reinstatement of the Australian Building and Construction Commission.

The need for the restoration of the Building and Construction Commission is very, very clear. If anyone needs reminding, they need only look at the television reports in the last 24 hours of a confrontation on the Commonwealth Games construction site on the Gold Coast, where a CFMEU official is captured on camera bullying an employee on the site. Not content with a tirade of foulmouthed abuse, this representative of the CFMEU goes on to make one of those menacing threats that none of us would ever wish to hear. This is what he said: 'I have your telephone number. I know where you live.' This is not something scripted for The Godfather or The Sopranos; this is the practical reality of life on a construction site in our country. Thuggery like this should have no place in Australia.

The evidence shows that the presence of a strong workplace relations regulator on building sites was successful in suppressing the coercion, the intimidation and the standover tactics that have created this environment of criminality and corruption. It is astounding that those opposite continue blindly to deny this. It is a bizarre notion of loyalty—their notion of loyalty—that sees them continue to sanction and condone this behaviour. Who are they protecting? Certainly not the more than one million Australians who rely for their livelihoods on a strong, safe and competitive construction industry, including 300,000 small businesses along with law-abiding rank-and-file union members. Certainly they are not protecting the taxpayers of Australia, who pay construction costs a third or more higher than they should for hospitals, schools, roads, dams and, indeed, apartment buildings because of the corrupt and criminal influence of a delinquent union. The reality is that the CFMEU's lawlessness makes taxpayers pay more for public infrastructure; it makes homebuyers pay more for apartments; it adds an enormous tax, a tax of lawlessness, on the building industry of Australia.


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