The $2.4 million in penalties issued to the CFMEU yesterday for illegal behaviour at Sydney’s Barangaroo site would be wiped under Bill Shorten and Labor, who are committed to abolishing the Australian Building and Construction Commission and not put anything in its place.
Minister for Employment, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, said Mr Shorten’s commitment to abolish the ABCC would give the green light for CFMEU intimidation and thuggery on Australian building sites.
“Bill Shorten has promised to abolish the ABCC and put nothing in its place to maintain the rule of law in the building industry,” Minister Cash said.
Mr Shorten’s policy was revealed in letters between himself and the CFMEU when he was running for the ALP leadership in 2013 (attached). In these letters the CFMEU offered its support for Mr Shorten’s leadership bid, provided he agreed to its policy demands, which, of course, he did.
On 19 September 2013 the national secretary of the CFMEU wrote to Bill Shorten saying that:
“the CFMEU has many members and officials who are active members of the Labor Party. They will soon be deciding who to support as leader of the Labor Party in the upcoming ballot”.
The CFMEU asked Mr Shorten to commit to a number of policy positions, many of which would go even further than Mr Shorten went in 2012 when he abolished the ABCC as Minister for Workplace Relations.
Mr Shorten responded on 24 September and agreed to the CFMEU’s demands. He committed to:
o Opposing any industry-specific regulator, including even the one he established in 2012 (Fair Work Building and Construction) to replace the ABCC (“I commit to aligning regulatory arrangements for the building industry, with those applying to other workers in Australia…”)
o Opposing any of form of building code, even though he had retained a weak and ineffectual code as Minister in 2013 (this was embellished as “aligning regulatory arrangements for the building industry, with those applying to other workers in Australia, including in respect of Commonwealth procurement policy”)
o Opposing any kind of compulsory evidence-gathering powers in the building industry, even though he had retained such powers in a weakened form in 2012 (“I don’t believe in laws that unfairly discriminate against workers in different industries, including providing differing powers for regulatory agencies, eg. coercive powers”)
In order to further ingratiate himself to the CFMEU, Mr Shorten also boasted that as Minister he had abolished the ABCC and reduced the penalties that applied under the FWBC legislation by two-thirds compared to its level under the ABCC. This action by Mr Shorten alone saved the CFMEU up to $4.8 million in penalties in yesterday’s Barangaroo decision, as this proceeding was commenced under the previous penalty regime prior to the restoration of the ABCC.
“Given the relentless lawlessness by the CFMEU it is inconceivable that Bill Shorten could be so irresponsible, but in return for their support for the Labor leadership he promised the CFMEU to abolish any form of building regulator and give the CFMEU a green light to terrorise the industry,” Minister Cash said.
“In recent years the CFMEU has accrued fines of more than $12 million and yet if given the chance Bill Shorten would ensure this militant union would face no consequences for its illegal behaviour.”
Mr Shorten’s policy position would result in a clear financial benefit to the Labor Party, as the CFMEU has donated $8.1 million to Labor since 2007, at the same time it has been forced to pay over $12 million in fines. If it was no longer required to pay any fines it will be free to bankroll the Labor Party to an even more outrageous extent.
Bill Shorten has in the past proven he will do whatever it takes to assist militant unions if it means support for his leadership and money for the Labor Party. The victims of this policy will be the thousands of honest building workers who wish to work in peace free of harassment, the thousands of small contractors who will be bullied and denied work by powerful unions and powerful head contractors, and the taxpayers of Australia, who will pay billions of dollars more for vital hospitals, schools and infrastructure.
Today there are more than 90 CFMEU representatives before the courts for more than 1,300 suspected contraventions. Despite this, Bill Shorten continues to accept millions in donations from this corrupt union, which shows no respect for the rule of law yet continues to control the Labor Party.