‘Innocent will suffer’ if Greens ABCC changes pass: industry

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‘Innocent will suffer’ if Greens ABCC changes pass: industry

Major industry associations have joined to fight Green amendments to the legislation abolishing the ABCC that will allow for disputes to be ‘settled’ without unions or employers having to face prosecution for unlawful actions.

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Major industry associations have joined to fight Green amendments to the legislation abolishing the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) that will allow for disputes to be ‘settled’ without unions or employers having to face prosecution for unlawful actions.

Construction industry participants fear big unions like the CFMEU will be able to force employers to make deals by using unlawful industrial action, and then get them to agree the matter is ‘settled’ so the union can avoid prosecution.

A statement issued by ACCI and supported by the industry associations says the amendments are damaging and would ‘set aside the rights of innocent smaller parties and the public affected by unlawful conduct in the building and construction industry’.

Mockery of ‘one law for all’
 
It also says the amendments ‘make a mockery’ of the union movement’s call for ‘one law for all’ when the immunity from prosecution in the construction industry does not apply to any other law in the country.

ACCI and Industry Association members have requested all Senators to carefully scrutinise and reject the ‘11th hour’ amendments.

‘These Australian Green’s initiated amendments radically re-shape the government’s original Bill by preventing the proposed Fair Work Building Inspectorate from instituting proceedings in respect of any matter which has been settled by parties to a dispute,’ the statement says.

‘These amendments are damaging and if they were currently in effect, they would set aside the rights of innocent smaller parties and the public affected by unlawful conduct in the building and construction industry.’

Enforce the law
 
‘It is essential that any government regulator retain discretion to enforce the law whether it be against an employee, union or employer, without fear or favour.’
 
‘By allowing unlawful conduct to go unpunished because a deal has been reached between the offender and the victim, or two offenders, is unheard of in any other area of regulation.’

The statement says the amendments make the case even stronger for the Parliament to reject the government’s legislation and retain the existing framework [of the ABCC].

It says that despite the government saying ‘[t]his bill honours the government’s commitment and gives effect to the principal recommendations in Mr Wilcox’s report’ and that the government ‘always supported a strong building industry regulator to ensure lawful conduct by all parties’ these amendments were not recommended by Justice Wilcox.
 
Nor were they recommended by the Cole Royal Commission in 2003 or the Senate Committee in its report on the legislation.

Weaker than FW laws
 
‘The irony is that the powers of the proposed Fair Work Building Industry Inspectorate, will be significantly weaker than industrial inspectors under Fair Work laws,’ the statement says.
 
‘It also makes a mockery of union’s repeated calls for “one law for all”. It is not a feature under any other law of this country and the Senate should prevent these amendments wrecking the independence of the proposed regulator.’
 
‘The organisations supporting this statement are also calling on the Australian Government and the ABCC to release its legal advice on the implications these proposals have for the enforcement of the Rule of Law.’

The statement is signed by:
  • The National Electrical and Communications Association
  • The Master Plumbers Association
  • Master Builders Australia
  • The Australian Mines and Metals Association
  • The Air Conditioning and Mechanical Contractors Association
  • National Fire Industry Association.

 

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