The CFMEU’s actions help build the case for establishing the ABCC

The Australian, February 16, 2017:

If you were in any doubt about the need for the re-establishment of the Australian Building and Construction Commission and the ­associated code that applies to Australian government projects, all you need to observe is the desperate and outrageous behaviour of the officials of the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union.

In order to “persuade” senator Nick Xenophon and his team to vote against the amendment to reduce the delay in the introduction of the code from two years to nine months, the CFMEU has had billboards erected in Adelaide, taken out a full-page advertisement in The Advertiser, run advertisements on television and conducted robocalls, all attacking the senator.

This behaviour, initially des­cribed as “overreach” by Senator Xenophon, is now the basis of defamation action initiated by him against the CFMEU.

To underline the fact that he is not impressed, he labelled the CFMEU’s campaign as not just “post-truth but dishonest, devious, misleading, mischievous, manipulative, aggressive, unethical and — dare I say it — corrupt”.

That pretty much covers it.

The Labor Party was also not about to take the collapse of the two-year transition lying down.

Note that the delay suited the CFMEU as it effectively grand­fathered all non-code compliant agreements as well as giving the union the chance to have the whole arrangement rescinded if Labor were voted into power next time.

Kim Carr decided that attacking Derryn Hinch made sense, ­alluding to some secret preference deal with Labor as long as Senator Hinch didn’t rock the boat on industrial relations.

Here’s the thing, Senator Carr: revealing this sort of thing is a very bad look and is unlikely to win over Senator Hinch in any case.

Shortening the transition ­period before the code becomes operational makes sense.

The two-year wait was profoundly unfair to those companies that had resisted the pressure applied by the CFMEU to sign up to non-code compliant agreements.

We should not forget that the code was foreshadowed from May 2014.

Hopefully, we will now have a situation where these companies and the ones that will have to amend their agreements — and we will be relying on the efficiency of the ABCC and the Fair Work Commission to process the changes, incidentally — can ­compete on equal terms when they are seeking government-funded work.

And as for all those threats and intimidations from the CFMEU that renegotiating agreements would lead to industrial action as well as claims for even higher pay and allowances, this would surely be a classic case of cutting off your nose to spite your face.

These affected companies would then have no show of ­securing government work because their tenders would be ­uncompetitive.

Someone might want to ­explain market forces to the CFMEU — and to the Labor Party, for that matter.