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Wednesday, 15 February 2017
Page: 1052


Senator CASH (Western AustraliaMinister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service, Minister for Employment and Minister for Women) (18:16): Senator Marshall, I do not have that information; however, again I go to the point that this is an opt-in scheme. If you do not want to perform Commonwealth-funded work, you do not have to. It is as simple as that. It is an opt-in scheme. Building industry participants have now had since April 2014 to bring their enterprise agreements into line with the new Building Code. I am advised that over 600 companies sent their agreements to the Department of Employment to be assessed against the advance release of the code since April 2014. Master Builders themselves have publicly stated that there are contractors that have enterprise agreements that comply with the 2016 code. As I have already stated, 16 per cent of companies have the clauses that have been referred to in relation to changing the agreements when the law changes.

Ultimately, what it comes down to is this: is the CFMEU honestly going to say no to their members having jobs? I think the answer to this question has to be no. It is up to the CFMEU. If a company with a non-code-compliant agreement has to become code compliant within this period of time in order to be able to undertake Commonwealth government work, that is the choice the CFMEU have. Do you know what I would do if I were the CFMEU? I would renegotiate as fast as I could if I was dinkum about my members actually undertaking work and having jobs, as opposed to—I have the article here somewhere—threatening to close down Australia if the Senate today votes on this small amendment to this bill. They have openly issued a statement on 15 February. The summation of the statement is that they are so offended that they will close down Australia. I say this to the CFMEU: you can close down Australia. It is up to you. But you can also do the right thing by your members and ensure that in the event—because it may not occur—that the person or company you are working for becomes subject to the code and is required to have a code-compliant agreement, you are going to do your damned hardest to ensure that you can front up on Monday morning with a job. That is the decision the CFMEU can make. They can shut down Australia or they can ensure that their members have jobs.