Thursday, September 10, 2009

Families first, Senator Fielding?

Family First Senator Steve Fielding just doesn’t get it.

The following is a press release on new regulations proposed for the union-busting Australian Building and Construction Commission:

MEDIA RELEASE Thursday, September 10 2009


Today’s Senate report into the Australian Building and Construction Commission makes a point of adding more red tape instead of addressing thuggery on worksites across the country, Family First Leader Senator Steve Fielding.

“For too long thugs have disrupted vital infrastructure projects and we don’t want a return to the old days,” Senator Fielding said.

“We’ve seen plenty of problems on the West Gate Bridge and the Royal Children’s Hospital projects because of thuggery and unlawful behaviour.

“People should be able to go to work without the threat of being bashed simply because they don’t belong to a particular union.

“There needs to be a tough cop on the beat like the ABCC. We don’t want to end up with a toothless tiger.”

Family First has prepared five amendments to the government’s legislation:

1. Keep tough penalties for unlawful industrial action
2. No sunset clause on coercive powers
3. No “switching off” of coercive powers on individual projects or worksites
4. Businesses to retain power to take immediate action to stop unlawful industrial activity
5. Safeguarding the independence of the new ABCC

“We’re spending billions of dollars on infrastructure and at the same time the government is talking about watering down the ABCC,” Senator Fielding said.

“This will cost the economy an enormous amount if we don’t get it right. This is the wrong time to weaken the ABCC.

“My door is open for negotiation with the government because I’m not confined by anti-union ideology like the coalition.

“But if the Rudd Government doesn’t seriously consider my amendments there is no way I can vote for their legislation.”

Very interesting isn't it! Fielding misses the point entirely.

Firstly, if there is thuggery, it can be dealt with by existing laws. In the case of the West Gate Bridge, the ABCC brought serious charges against a number of CFMEU officials and members, and Gillard went to town on the basis of these charges, talking of innocent workers being chased through the streets of Melbourne by balaclava-wearing union thugs threatening violence. However, when the police looked through the evidence, all but a couple of minor charges relating to misconduct and traffic offences were dropped. The law as it stands is quite competent to deal with any allegations of misbehaviour for which there is real evidence. There is no need for an additional “tough cop on the beat”.

Why do we pay $32m a year for an ABCC which slanders unions, yet does nothing about the real corruption and violence in the industry? It is an entirely partisan outfit that leaves bosses who engage in corrupt payments to continue doing so; that leaves bosses who maim and kill building workers to continue doing so.

Why has it never investigated the likes of Michael McGurk, this murdered property developer in NSW who has extensive ties to the Labor Party and was a major financial contributor to them? Why hasn't it investigated on-site bullies who push workers into unsafe practices in order to get jobs finished ahead of time?

Why is Fielding putting corporate profits first instead of the interests of working families?

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