Master Builders backs inquiry’s call for tougher watchdog

"THE findings of the Senate Committee examining the case return of the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) confirms the need for building unions to behave like normal people," Wilhelm Harnisch, CEO of Master Builders Australia said this week.

The Senate Education and Employment Committee's Report on the Government's draft legislation to re-establish the ABCC found the Australian community has a direct interest in the rule of law being applied on building and construction sites.

"Master Builders Australia strongly supports the committee's finding," Mr Harnisch said.

The evidence brought before the committee by parties, including employer organisations and government, confirms that since the abolition of the ABCC there has been a resurgence in the unacceptable industrial behaviour of building unions of the kind identified by the Cole Royal Commission.

The evidence heard by the committee shows coercion and intimidation by building unions has again become commonplace in the industry.

"Industrial thuggery of this kind is outside the community's expectations of normal behaviour and as the committee heard it has dire consequences not only for productivity in the building industry but adds unnecessary costs which are felt across the whole economy," Wilhelm Harnisch said.

"Master Builders challenges anyone to look objectively at the recent behaviour of the CFMEU at the Epping Markets and Myer Emporium sites in Melbourne and the Royal Children's Hospital in Brisbane and say this is normal and acceptable in our community," Wilhelm Harnisch said. "All we want is for the building unions to behave like normal people," he said.

The committee also heard evidence of an increase in days lost due to industrial action since the ABCC was abolished. "The community has a direct interest in the re-establishment of the ABCC to apply the rule of law in the building and construction industry because of reduced costs in the delivery of vital community infrastructure such as hospitals and schools," Mr Harnisch said. "Master Builders strongly supports the Government's mandate to restore the ABCC and the Committee's recommendation that the Senate pass the Government's bills to bring this into effect," he said.