When I was elected to this parliament I made a commitment to the people that I would speak with honesty and accountability. So I stand here and support the ABCC, as put forward by the Turnbull government. I have listened to the other side—I have listened to the Labor Party and their comments. They say that this will destroy Australian jobs, but that is not the case. I wish we were having a truthful debate about this. It is not about Australian workers. It is not about taking their jobs. It is about the CFMEU, who are throwing their weight around this country and destroying jobs and who think they can go onto building sites with their bullying and their thuggery.
Since my election, I have had meetings with businesses from the first and second tier, who are at their wits end and fed up with the building and construction industry. Demands are being put on them. They are being asked to pay union fees and wages before a job can go ahead. They are told, ‘You must sign a cheque for $5,000.’ Then money must go into union superannuation funds. If businesses do not comply, then the tactics start. If they are pouring a concrete slab it is shut down, because, the unions say, ‘It’s unsafe for work.’. Businesses have no-one to turn to.
The ABCC was replaced in 2012. It has not been not around since then, so for the other side to say that this is about safety and deaths on building and construction sites is not the truth. The ABCC has not been around for the last four years, but there have still been deaths—they are not because of the ABCC. No-one wants to see deaths on building sites, and, yes, we must make sure there is decent work health and safety, but the fact is this is about reining in delegates who are obstructionists. Their obstructions add costs of anywhere between 25 to 30 per cent to building and construction projects—it can cost the taxpayer that much. This is going to destroy jobs in Australia.
I have listened to the other side say, ‘We are going to have 457 visa holders come and take jobs.’ That is a totally different issue to the ABCC. Reining in 457 visas holders in Australia is another issue for this government and the Labor side to deal with—it is not under the ABCC. Then the other side says, ‘You are denying apprenticeships.’ That has nothing to do with it either. That is all under enterprise bargaining; it has nothing to do with the ABCC. Yes, I would dearly love to see more apprenticeship schemes in Australia, and I do have a policy for that, but not under this bill. If a company has five workers, you cannot say to them, ‘You must put on an apprentice.’ You cannot tell subcontractors they have to have workers, because a lot of them are struggling. They do not have apprentices, and you cannot force them to put on apprentices, because it is not just for a few weeks—the time period is years. We have to start looking after businesses and subcontractors, because if we do not they will fold and shut up shop. Then we will have international interests in this country doing the jobs and bringing in their own workers. Unless we get smart, we will not have Australians doing the jobs. That is why this legislation is here, and I do support it.
Even judges comment on how uncouth the CFMEU has been. You have coercion of employers to enter into enterprise agreements, you have denial of the right of employees to not join unions, you have blackmail of subcontractors who do not agree to the union’s demands—these things are happening. I cannot understand why the Labor Party will not be up-front and honest. Tell the Australian people what is happening. Explain to them why we need these changes in this legislation. The whole thing is because the Labor side is funded by the unions. That is why they will not come out against them and be honest with the Australian people and the Australian workers.
This goes far beyond just jobs. We have to look at future generations here, so that we will have businesses and industries and growth in this country and will not be shutting businesses down. I will not stand by and watch the thuggery that goes on in this country and see anyone, it does not matter who they are, being bullied. This is Australia. We are not like other countries around the world. We must stand up and fight against this. That is why I support the government. Minister Cash has done a very good job in drafting this legislation on behalf of the government, and I support it fully.
Source: Parliament of Australia website. Senate BILLS Senator Hanson
Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Bill 2013, Building and Construction Industry (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2013
Second Reading Page: 109