ABCC Abolition Bill delayed in Senate shambles

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ABCC Abolition Bill delayed in Senate shambles

The Labor Government has made a tactical withdrawal in its bid to replace the ABCC with a new construction watchdog under FWA, and has admitted that the legislation will not be dealt with this year.

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The Labor Government has made a tactical withdrawal in its bid to replace the ABCC with a new construction watchdog under FWA, and has admitted that the legislation will not be dealt with this year.
 
The Government still has its ETS and State IR referral legislation to get through, and despite Parliament sitting next Monday it has admitted there is no chance the ABCC legislation can be dealt with this year.
 
The new FWA inspectorate to replace the ABCC was due to come into operation on 1 February next year.
 
Leadership battle
 
With the Opposition tearing itself apart in a leadership battle and an internal dispute over the ETS legislation, the Government is not certain of getting anything through the Senate before Parliament rises next week.
 
A spokeswoman for Workplace Relations Minister Julia Gillard said the Bill would ‘be dealt with by the Senate in the new year’. The first Senate sitting date is February 2.
 
However there has been opposition to plans to reduce the fines under the new inspectorate, and to bring in a five year ‘sunset’ clause on the body’s coercive powers that enable it to interrogate people believed to have been involved in planning or conducting unlawful industrial action.
 
The Coalition wants the ABCC to continue, and independent senator Steve Fielding is insisting on five amendments that would see the inspectorate have powers very close to the ABCC.
 
Opposition blamed
 
Gillard’s spokeswoman blamed the Opposition for the delay, and called on the Liberal Party to ‘respect the wishes of the Australian people’ and the Government's mandate.
 
‘The Government remains committed to delivering on its election promise to abolish the ABCC,’ she said.
 
Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union national construction secretary Dave Noonan said unions did not like the Government's Bill, but passing it was preferable to keeping the Howard government's laws.
 
‘We've got a situation where workers are put under threat of prosecution for conducting legitimate union business,’ he said.
 
He said South Australian building worker Ark Tribe may be jailed for not attending an interview with the commission.
 
‘Big business’ amendments
 
Noonan said Senator Fielding's amendments appeared to have been drafted for him by big business, and Family First should be rebadged ‘greedy property developers first’.
 
Noonan said unions would seek a meeting with Gillard to ask how the Government would meet its election commitment.
 
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