Turnbull’s plan to re-introduce the ABCC

As you would be aware, Malcolm Turnbull has recalled federal parliament today, 18 April, to attempt to re-introduce the Australian Building and Construction Commission. He is blackmailing the Independents in the Senate to pass the ABCC Bill or face a double dissolution election in which they would lose their seats.

The ABCC was originally introduced by the Howard Government in 2005. The ABCC discriminates against workers in the construction industry by applying a different and harsher set of laws to workers and their unions not applied to any other industry or the population at large.

The current version of the ABCC bills increases penalties for workers and unions, widens its reach and seeks to implement a Building Code which would take away rights other workers have to negotiate certain items in bargaining agreements with their employer.

Some 1 million workers would be affected because the new version of the Bill will extend the ABCC’s reach to all workers that supply, transport or prefabricate manufactured goods, including any ship that is travelling to and from an Australian port.

Under the proposed ABCC legislation:

• Workers would not have the right to silence, a right even afforded to criminals such as ice dealers

• They would face penalties of up to 6 months jail if they refused to answer questions about something as simple as a union meeting

• Workers would not be able to have a lawyer of their choosing

• EBAs containing clauses which provide for the employment of apprentices or older Australians and set maximum hours of work would be illegal

Attached is a briefing note which goes into further detail.


Rita Mallia
State President

2 thoughts on “Turnbull’s plan to re-introduce the ABCC

  1. The 'brick with eyes' stares ... says:

    The ‘brick with eyes’ stares down Palmer, Turnbull – all in one week*.

    This week, two of Australia’s richest men find themselves at the mercy of an independent senator from Queensland, Glen Lazarus. On the ABC’s Four Corners Lazarus called out Palmer as a bully and Turnbull as a fool in their attacks on workers. Palmer on the nickel workers at Yabulu, Turnbull on construction workers Australia wide.

    Rugby league followers may remember that Glen Lazarus used to play at the Canberra Raiders with John Lomax (CFMEU) who was falsely charged with blackmail on a building site. The CFMEU is a supporter of the Canbera Raiders.

    Lazarus has learnt while being a senator. He started off as one of Palmer’s minions. He resigned from the Palmer United Party, opposed the China free trade agreement, supported wharfies sacked by Hutchison’s, cautions against state and federal government support for the Adani coal mine and now is against the ABCC bill. Lazarus’s vote in the senate yesterday against the ABCC (the vote was 36-34 against the bill) may trigger a double dissolution election i.e. where all sitting members of both houses of parliament are up for election. Turnbull may pull the trigger after the 3 May federal budget … which is the day after May Day in Queensland.

    Palmer must be regretting every living moment his decision to enter parliament in an attempt to gain the balance of power. What he did achieved was giving Lazarus, with the help of the Opposition, Greens and the remaining cross-benchers — Jacqui Lambie, Ricky Muir and John Madigan, the ability to stop the ABCC bill.

    Meanwhile Palmer’s Nickel business is bankrupt and so is Turnbull’s political career. A double-dissolution lowers the number of votes the now independent senator needs to get re-elected. It makes another senate seat for the Greens in Qld a possibility.

    SA senator John Madigan who also voted against the ABCC bill brought 2 families to court whose fathers had been killed on a building site. To attack the CFMEU is to attack workers rights to defend themselves against shonky builders running unsafe workplaces.

    When Turnbull pulls the trigger, a federal election on 2 July 2016 is likely. After a double dissolution election, both houses of parliament sit to vote on the bills that triggered the elections. It is unlikely, if the LNP wins, that they will have sufficient numbers to pass the ABCC bill in the parliament.

    Workers, be wary of a Shorten led ALP government.

    Ian Curr
    19 April 2016

    *Glen Lazarus was christened ‘the brick with eyes’ by comedians, Roy and HG from This Sporting Life.

  2. The Real Role of the ABCC says:

    The facts show that the objective of the ABCC is to destroy the power of the trade union movement in the building and construction industry. It is not an anti-corruption body.

    The vast majority of the allegations against the trade union movement made during the Royal Commission into trade unions have been abandoned because they have no substance.

The remaining allegations are overwhelmingly about the tactics used by workers and their unions during industrial disputes between the employer and the employees – only a few are about corruption, none of which have been proven by a court of law.

    The corruption within in the leaders of the Health Services Union was exposed by activists in the union prior to the existence of the Royal Commission or the ABCC. Those officials were expelled and it was the union that pursued these people through our courts of law to recover workers money and to jail those found guilty.

    Five charges involving the CFMEU have all failed in the courts.

    The allegations are about issues such as safety, underpayment of wages and conditions, right of entry, picketing union sites when the workers are on strike, threatening or swearing at employers during heated debates, demanding equal treatment for all workers on a building site etc.

    To prove my point about the Turnbull Government’s real agenda, we only have to look at the new code of practice which the ABCC will enforce.

    There are 17 important issues, around which unions have been able to negotiate in the past, they will not be able to negotiate in the future.

The Code provides that if an employer agrees to and implements any of these issues on any of their projects they will be not be eligible to tender for government projects.

What the code outlaws:

    The right to set maximum hours – if unions can’t prevent unlimited hours being worked fatigue will lead to accidents and ultimately deaths.

    The right to apprentice quotas – if unions can’t bargain to make agreements with employers to take on apprentices we will not have jobs for our young people and the skills to compete in the global economy.

    Agreed stable and safe shift rosters and RDO’s – if workers can’t have RDOs and stable rosters many children will miss out on spending time with their parents.

    The right to set limits on labour hire and casual jobs helps to ensure less insecure work and more stability.

    Civil Liberties – building workers face up to six months in jail if they seek to exercise their right to silence. Even a murderer gets to exercise the right to silence.

    The ABCC can decide that workplace meetings, even one about safety, are illegal and workers participating can be fined $30,00 for participating and unions $180,000 which is almost as much as bosses responsible for workers being killed on site get fined.

    Workers and their unions should be able to negotiate agreements with employers that affect their jobs, their future, their family and their well-being.

    We don’t want governments which seek to act like dictators.

The ABCC role violates UN Declaration of Human Rights that workers have trade union rights and protection.
Don’t let the ABCC become a precedent that will affect, over time, all Australian workers.

    Tom McDonald
    Former Vice President ACTU

    18 April 2016

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