Monday, 18 April 2016
Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Bill 2013 [No. 2], Building and Construction Industry (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2013 [No. 2]; Second Reading
I rise to conclude the debate on this cognate legislation. In summing up the debate, I wish to thank all senators for their contributions. This legislation is of great importance for promoting jobs and growth by improving productivity in the building and construction industry. For too many years, the building and construction industry has provided the worst examples of old-fashioned industrial relations lawlessness. Projects have been delayed, costs have blown out and investment in our economy and infrastructure has been jeopardised. The measures contained in these bills are vital to boosting Australia's productivity and to ensuring that law and order prevails at our nation's building sites. The construction industry is unique. The argument from some senators that there is no need for an industry-specific regulator is naïve and misguided. So, too, is the argument that what we really need to tackle the unlawfulness in the industry is a national corruption watchdog to deal with crime and corruption across all sectors.
As I said at the beginning of this debate today, the Senate has two choices. The first choice is to bury its head in the sand and deny there is a problem. Those that choose to do this are voting for increased levels of industrial action, reduced levels of productivity, project delays and the continuation of coercion, intimidation and bullying on our nation's construction sites. The second choice is to face the facts and to accept the reality that the current laws are ineffective and that new laws are needed to restore the rule of law to our nation's building sites. Those who choose to do this are voting for the good of the industry, for those who participate in it and, ultimately, for the entire nation.
We have, therefore, before us a clear choice. The parliament can choose whether it stands for thuggery or for fairness, for the rule of law or for lawlessness. We have a choice between the public interest versus the interests of the most corrupt union in Australia.
I commend the bills to the Senate.