Building and Construction Commission Bill passes House – October 2016

Filed under: Politics, Australian Politics, Trade and industry, Building Industry, Trade Unions,

The Coalition Government has used its numbers in the House of Representatives to push through in the House legislation to reinstate the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) which the government used as a trigger for the double-dissolution on July 2.

Before introducing the legislation Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in Question Time accused unions of brushing off fines for bad behaviour as if they were parking tickets.

The Prime Minister also pointed to the 113 CFMEU officials before the courts. “The union regards the very small fines that are imposed on them as no more than parking tickets. They treat it as a business expense,” he said.

He denied Government legislation restoring the ABCC and a separate Registered Organisations Commission were about 'union busting'.

“This is not anti-union. This is not union busting,” he said, rather, it was “economy-boosting”.

Labor would build public confidence in the unions if they supported the legislation, Mr Turnbull said.

Government backbencher Andrew Laming said it was time to get rid of unions altogether, insisting they no longer played a role in site safety or supporting their members in meaningful ways.

“The game of unions is getting more members signed up, bringing round the Iced Vovos to tea rooms and of course extorting and threatening people who don't join up,” he told reporters at Parliament House.

Labor frontbencher Mark Dreyfus said the construction industry already had massive oversight from rigorous laws. “Basically, it seems part of this government's anti-worker, anti-union agenda,” he told reporters.

On the registered organisations commission, which would bring the same oversight to unions and employer groups as for company directors, Labor says the corporate watchdog ASIC is better placed to take on the role.

But Mr Turnbull said a dedicated body would be more focused than a small section of ASIC. Nevertheless, he said that was a question 'purely of design'.

The Coalition is negotiating passage of its legislation though the Senate with crossbench senators, including Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm who claims the Government has welched on a deal to relax gun laws in exchange for his support.

Independent senator Nick Xenophon - who leads a team of three - argued the construction watchdog would not be credible unless it also dealt with the plight of subcontractors when building contractors collapsed.

Further Reading