Employers condemn move to abolish ABCC

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Employers condemn move to abolish ABCC

Employers are outraged by Federal Government moves to abolish the ABCC in this session of Parliament, and replace it with a less draconian regulatory agency under Fair Work Australia.

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Employers are outraged by Federal Government moves to abolish the ABCC in this session of Parliament, and replace it with a less draconian regulatory agency under Fair Work Australia.

IR Minister Senator Chris Evans will introduce the Building and Construction Industry Improvement Amendment (Transition to Fair Work) Bill before the Spring session ends in November.

The Bill removes a range of industry-specific regulations, including laws that provide higher penalties for breaches of industrial laws and broader circumstances under which industrial action attracts penalties.

It will also introduce safeguards in relation to the use of the power to compulsorily obtain information or documents.

The Opposition will vote against the legislation in both Houses, and the Federal Government will need the support of independents in the Lower House and the Greens in the Senate to get it through.

Master Builders Australia said the current powers of the ABCC must not be abolished.

Unlawful
 
‘The need for change has not been demonstrated, particularly in light of ongoing unlawful behaviour by unions,’ said CEO Wilhelm Harnisch.

‘In fact, repealing the current industry-specific laws and relying on the Fair Work Act penalties would reduce the fines to be applied to unlawful behaviour by two-thirds.’

‘This would send the wrong message to the courts who have been handing down larger fines because, even in the face of a well-empowered watchdog, the unions continue to disregard the rule of law.’
 
‘It would also send a wrong message; a message that says that the government finds it acceptable for the community to pay more for its public infrastructure, its hospitals, its schools and other community facilities because of unlawful industrial behaviour.’

Heather Ridout, chief executive of the Australian Industry Group, said there had been ‘some worrying developments’.

‘Damaging and unproductive industrial relations practices have been creeping back into parts of the construction industry and a strong regulator needs to be maintained to ensure that industrial practices are lawful and appropriate,’ she said.

Risks
 
‘Unless a strong, well-resourced regulator is maintained, the risks associated with industrial lawlessness will again be priced into construction contracts, at great cost to project owners (including Governments) and the Australian community.’

Opposition IR spokesman Eric Abetz said the move to abolish the ABCC was an attempt by Prime Minister Julia Gillard to ‘placate the left’ and shore up her political position.

‘The ABCC has helped the building and construction industry to increase productivity by 10%, provide an annual economic welfare gain of $5.5 billion annually, reduce inflation, increase GDP and slash days lost through industrial action,’ he said.

‘Julia Gillard now wants to flush this all away in an attempt to save her political hide.’

However, CFMEU national secretary Dave Noonan said the government had a clear mandate for the legislation.

He said the ABCC had done nothing but waste $35m of public money and that coercive powers have no place in a free society.
 
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