Cabinet supports Cole: Abbott

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Cabinet supports Cole: Abbott

Federal cabinet has already approved some of the key Cole report recommendations, including an extension of the interim building and construction industry task force.

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Federal cabinet has already approved some of the key Cole report recommendations, including an extension of the interim building and construction industry task force.
 
In a speech to the National Press Club in Canberra today, Workplace Relations Minister Tony Abbott said: 'So far, the Task Force has visited nearly 300 sites, launched more than 50 investigations, brought three prosecutions and referred nine other matters to state police, the Australian Federal Police or the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for further action.
 
Other Cole recommendations supported by cabinet include:
  • Introducing a separate act for the construction industry providing for secret ballots before strikes, compulsory cooling off periods after extended strikes, and damages in the event of unprotected industrial action.
  • A new law enforcement agency for the industry with powers to compel witnesses to testify, bring prosecutions and enforce judgments and with sufficient on-the-ground presence to police CBD building sites.
  • The Government will insist on the National Construction Code and implementation guidelines being applied to all significant new projects that are fully or partly federally funded.
'Directly or indirectly, the Federal Government funds about $5 billion worth of construction projects every year and is determined to use its role as client to drive change in the industry', Abbott said.
 
Abbott compared the Cole Commission to 'a giant searchlight probing the dark underside of this potentially great Australian industry', and claimed the 'industry operates under the rule of the jungle'.
 
He said the rule of law 'completely breaks down when one side has an effective monopoly over the supply of labour and disputes resemble a more-or-less normal family telling the house full of footballers next door that the party's over'.
 
He said construction workers 'have a right to an honest industry where they can earn a fair day's pay for a fair day's work and expect to come home uninjured'.
 
Unions have criticised the Cole report as an anti-union witch hunt that has cost taxpayers $60 million dollars.
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