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

There is simply no evidence to support the claims by those opposite that the existence of the ABCC impacted on the safety performance of the industry in any negative way. It is absolutely, deliberately misleading to suggest it did. To suggest that the only way an industry can be safe is to have a culture of lawlessness and thuggery is surely the pinnacle of the absurdity of the defence the Labor Party mounts for this militant, lawless union.

In doing so, the Labor Party also complain about the compulsory examinations process set out in the legislation. In doing so, they conveniently overlook the strong protections for witnesses to ensure due process and transparency in relation to those examinations. That includes that any information given by a witness cannot be used against them and that witnesses are entitled to have a lawyer present during an interview. In a stunning display of hypocrisy, the CFMEU—the most vocal critic of this legislation, apart from the members of the opposition—prevents its own members from receiving representation during its own internal disciplinary proceedings.

We all know criminality is rife in this sector. We know there is a culture of wilful defiance of all laws, and workplace relation laws in particular. So those that say there is no need for an industry-specific regulator are wrong. No reasonable observer can deny the extent of unlawfulness in the sector given the litany of court judgements and fines against construction unions for repeated and unrepented breaches of the law.

We can recall once again the 113 officials from the CFMEU currently before the courts for more than 1,100 suspected contraventions of the law. Time and time again, the courts have expressed their dismay at the actions of this union, with statements like, 'The CFMEU's record of noncompliance is an embarrassment to the trade union movement'; or, from another judge, 'Has there ever been a worse recidivist in the history of the common law?' Or another: 'The CFMEU has an egregious record of repeated and wilful contraventions of all manner of industrial laws.'

Through this legislation the ABCC can restore the rule of law to the building and construction industry. It is vital for jobs, for economic growth, for productivity. Australians involved in this industry deserve a workplace free from unlawful behaviour, including illegal industrial action, bullying, threats and intimidation. The ABCC will play a key role in dealing with this unlawful conduct in the industry.

Meaningful penalties will ensure workplaces are fair, productive and law abiding. The ABCC will improve productivity and reduce building costs by ensuring that disputes are dealt with efficiently and effectively by a regulator with specialist expertise. This will help small businesses develop and grow, which in turn will grow our economy. All Australians benefit by getting value for money on infrastructure investments.

As we know, these bills have been twice rejected by the Senate. My government called the double dissolution election in order to resolve the deadlock over the bills. The Australian people voted for this legislation when they re-elected the coalition. Those opposite will be showing their contempt for that democratic outcome if they persist in their obstruction of these bills. It is now time for the House—and, in due time, for the Senate—to do the right thing and restore the rule of law to our building and construction sector. I commend the bills to the House.


No comments