Abbott: stricter building laws needed

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Abbott: stricter building laws needed

A separate building industry Act and a strong watchdog are necessary to control commercial construction, the federal Workplace Relations Minister, Tony Abbott, told the national industrial relations convention in Adelaide, after the release of the Cole Royal Commission report.

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A separate building industry Act and a strong watchdog are necessary to control commercial construction, the federal Workplace Relations Minister, Tony Abbott, told the national industrial relations convention in Adelaide, after the release of the Cole Royal Commission report.
 
Abbott said the rule of law and management no longer controlled the construction industry. He used the Cole report to single out unions as the main perpetrators of unlawful industrial relations.
 
He spent little time, however, addressing problems relating to occupational health and safety, tax avoidance and worker entitlement breaches, also uncovered by the Cole inquiry.
 
Battle lines
 
Abbott listed a litany of building union failures in Victoria and Western Australia, and was adamant that legal and management structures in the building industry had been sidelined. Construction unions, he said, had 'rampaged' through some workplaces, were 'indifferent' to the courts and the Commission, and there was 'endemic failure' to adhere to agreements.
 
He believed 'various' unions had a greater capacity than employers to act and to 'sit things out' and their actions, unlike employers, were 'consequence free'.
 
He said there was something wrong with the construction industry if it felt that having 31 people singled out for possible criminal proceedings was 'not so bad'.
 
Some people, he said, treated the law like a 'smorgasbord', picking and choosing what laws they wanted to follow. Anyone that didn't like a law was welcome to campaign against it, he said, but while it was in place they had to abide by it.
 
Competition
 
Abbott told WorkplaceInfo after his speech that references by the Australian Industry Group to the building and construction industry being competitive internationally were wrong. Australia, he said, may be competitive with lowly ranked nations but it wasn't competitive with the highly ranked USA. He didn't believe pay and safety would be compromised for the building industry to lift its game on the world stage.
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