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Committees: Human Rights Committee

Estimates & Committees
Lee Rhiannon 14 May 2014

Senator RHIANNON (New South Wales) (17:32): The last speaker has told us what he has not heard from Labor and the Greens; but let us remember what we have not heard from the coalition. They have again brought forward the ABCC, the building and construction commission, which they now want to resurrect—like a dead animal that smells and stinks—but which brings more problems to people who are just trying to go about their lives and get a decent standard of living—and return alive from work. That is what you will not hear from this government. The Australian Building and Construction Commission, which came in in 2005, has caused massive problems. Its intent was to outlaw unionism.

We know that union sites are safe sites. What you will never hear from the coalition, and what you will never hear from Senator Ryan, is them actually addressing this issue. Once that commission came into existence, there was about a 95 per cent increase in issues of injuries and deaths on building sites, which are incredibly dangerous. If Senator Ryan is serious about cleaning up the industry, why doesn't he address the issue of dodgy contractors; contractors that are avoiding so much—not just how they should be paying their taxes but also how they should be following occupational health and safety laws? You would never hear a mention about that issue of safety from Senator Ryan or his colleagues. Nor do they address what this building and construction commission did: making building workers come under a code of law that is harsher than the laws which murderers and a whole range of criminals face, in terms of the secrecy provisions and the operation of the laws.

The double standards that we have seen again from Senator Ryan here in this place really expose what those opposite are up to, and why they want to bring back in the ABCC: to de-unionise work sites. What their constituency wants is to de-unionise work sites. Why do they want it? So they can make more profits. When you have to abide by safety standards; when you have an organised workforce; when you have unions that have a right to go on the job; then you have to work to achieve a safer building site. For many of the companies that the coalition works with, they are companies who are getting all those developer donations that are causing them so much embarrassment in New South Wales—and it is starting to move into the federal coalition—and those are the links that we need to expose here. That is why the Australian Building and Construction Commission came about. It has got so much to do with those developer donations, and with the coalition delivering for their side of politics—and it results in people losing their lives. That is what you will not hear Senator Ryan speak about, Madam Deputy Speaker.

Question agreed to.

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