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Tuesday, 28 October 2014
Page: 12259

Building and Construction Industry


Mr MATHESON (Macarthur) (15:01): My question is to the Minister for Education, representing the Minister for Employment. Will the minister explain why it is important to restore respect for the rule of law on building and construction sites in Australia and what threats exist to the government's plan for reform?


Mr PYNE (SturtLeader of the House and Minister for Education) (15:02): I thank the member for Macarthur for that question, because he, like all members on this side of the House, believe that respecting the rule of law on building and construction sites is a vital part of economic productivity in this country and a vital part of reducing costs to consumers. Under the Howard government, the Australian Building and Construction Commission—the period that that was operating, meant a $7.5 billion saving for consumers.

Ms Chesters interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Bendigo is warned!

Mr PYNE: And productivity in building and construction improved by 16.8 per cent over that period, because of the ABCC. When the Leader of the Opposition became the minister for employment, he turned all that on its head. He abolished the Australian Building and Construction Commission, he established Fair Work Building and Construction, which was reduced in terms of its power and was cut by 30 per cent in terms of its funding, and the rogue CFMEU got back its place at the cabinet table that it had lost under the Howard government.

It is important to know who the CFMEU is, because I think many members of the public do not quite realise the kind of rogue union that we are talking about. This is a union that received a $1.5 million record fine for criminal contempt of court this year, in 2014, for its blockade of the Myer Emporium site. This is a union that has been found guilty of contempt of court 28 times since the year 2000, with links to gangland bosses like Mick Gatto; through its secretary, John Setka; and with links to the Comancheros and the Rebels bikie gangs. Labor's response to this information about the CFMEU, which is quite public, has been to welcome it back in to the Victorian Labor Party—the same division that the Leader of the Opposition comes from. In fact, it has been welcomed back not just into the Victorian Labor Party but welcomed back into the socialist left faction of Daniel Andrews, the leader of the opposition in Victoria.

The CFMEU is part of the same faction as the socialist left leader of the opposition in Victoria, Daniel Andrews.

Opposition members interjecting

Mr PYNE: 'Hear, hear', they are saying. They love it. They have accepted $10 million of donations from the CFMEU since the year 2000, including $2 million for the Victorian division. And the Leader of the Opposition refuses to criticise the CFMEU. The problem is: he who pays the piper calls the tune, and the Leader of the Opposition needs to reject donations from the CFMEU. He needs to call for the expulsion of the CFMEU from the Victorian division. Until he does, he will be the weak Leader of the Opposition that we all know him to be.

An opposition member interjecting

The SPEAKER: Whoever made that comment will withdraw.

Mr Albanese: Madam Speaker, on a point of order: in what way is the name 'Kathy Jackson' unparliamentary?

The SPEAKER: Because it was reflecting on another member. I said: whoever made the comment will withdraw the comment. The member for McEwen—

Mr Mitchell: Could we have a withdrawal from the Leader of the Opposition? He is claiming that we have been taking money from the CFMEU. That is an imputation as well.

Government members interjecting

The SPEAKER: There will be silence on my right. I think that is called a 'home goal'.