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Thursday, 16 February 2012
Page: 1591

Mr BANDT (Melbourne) (10:38): I move the amendment on sheet 3:

(1) Schedule 1, item 52, page 21 (lines 2 to 12), omit the subsections 36A(1) and (2), substitute:

This Part applies to an investigation by the Director into a suspected contravention, by a building industry participant, of an offence against a designated building law punishable by imprisonment for a period of 12 months or more.

I note that we have coercive powers remaining in this country. These are the same coercive powers that the United Nations labour body, the International Labour Organisation—of which we are members and of which we have ratified the conventions—has said, on no less than eight separate occasions, contravene international law.

When these findings were handed down under the former Howard government there was a massive hue and cry from sections of those who believe in the rule of law, from the trade union movement and from the Labor Party. These provisions are exactly the same, have the same effect and remove the same rights as under the former government. I am disappointed that the last set of amendments moved by the member for Kennedy was not successful and so I move a compromise, which is that we retain these coercive powers only for the most serious of offences.

I move that we keep them only for those offences against a designated building law, punishable by imprisonment for a period of 12 months or more. If this amendment is not supported it is the equivalent of saying that coercive powers should apply for the industrial equivalent of a parking fine. It should not be the case that any simple, merely alleged breach of the law removes your right to silence and allows you to be hauled in for questioning. It should only be, at an absolute minimum, saved for those most serious of offences. I am hopeful that this compromise amendment will even get the government's support.