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Wednesday, 15 February 2017
Page: 1052

Senator MARSHALL (Victoria) (18:20): Again, I find it extraordinary, given that the department is there. The debate always seems to be about the big building companies and the CFMEU. The industry is much broader and more complex and detailed than that. Again, my advice, and it is only advice, is that not one air conditioning company in this country has a code-compliant agreement. It is hard to imagine that the Commonwealth will be funding any building and construction projects that will not need air conditioning contractors, as with my last question about lift and escalator contractors. I find it extraordinary. We talk about the 3½ thousand CFMEU agreements, but in the rest of the industry we have air conditioning, lifts and escalators, mechanical services, plumbing, electrical, boilermaking and steel fixing, civil engineering, mechanical engineering—the list goes on and on.

The amount of agreements the CFMEU has is only a portion of the agreements. Again, my estimation and advice is: in excess of 6,000 agreements are non-compliant in the industry. Six thousand have to be renegotiated and have to go through the process of getting changed through the commission. My advice is that that generally takes 12 weeks. So if we assumed that everyone could come to an agreement tomorrow about getting their agreement code-compliant, it would be 12 weeks before they even started to get to the commission. That is my advice. That is the way the commission has operated—by the time the agreements are voted on and registered. There has to be a period for the vote to take place. So, only then, in excess of 6,000—and this assumes that everyone can reach agreement then—goes through. You could do back-of-the-envelope figures, but I suppose it is an agreement being processed every couple of minutes in the commission to meet the nine-month deadline. Again, then you have companies saying 'Well, if we're not absolutely sure that we're going to be within that nine-month deadline, why would we spend and invest the money to tender only to find out that we might be over that nine months, and it's money down the drain?'

I have asked about air-conditioning. Maybe I could ask about mechanics services, as well. How many code-compliant agreements in the mechanical services component of the construction industry are code-compliant?