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Melbourne, 22 February 1999: transcript of doorstop interview [building industry; intimidation]



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Media Release

THE HON PETER REITH MP

MINISTER FOR EMPLOYMENT, WORKPLACE RELATIONS

AND SMALL BUSINESS

LEADER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 

PARLIAMENT HOUSE

CANBERRA ACT 2600

22 February 1999

 

TRANSCRIPT OF THE HON PETER REITH MP

DOORSTOP INTERVIEW, MEL BOURNE

 

 

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JOURNALIST:

 

Mr Reith, how is the Government planning to crack down on intimidation in the building industry?

 

REITH:

 

The Workplace Relations Act has various prohibitions against coercive behaviour, that Act was put into place with the support of Cheryl Kernot and the Democrats and the Office of the Employment Advocate has quite clear statutory requirements to ensure that the law is fully observed.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

What sort of intimidation are we talking about?

 

REITH :

 

There is no doubt that in the building industry, the bigger unions do deals and then try and coerce the smaller operators into signing up to those agreements. There is no doubt that for many years the subbies in the building industry have been the meat in the sandwich and have had to put up with a lot of intimidation and cohesive behaviour. The Employment Advocate is also charged with a responsibility by the Federal Parliament to take complaints and to deal with complaints where there are clear complaints about breaches of the law.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

Won’t this unnecessarily interfere in Victoria’s business?

 

REITH:

 

Well, it will certainly with illegal behaviour and so it should, that is what the law is meant to do and I have been concerned for sometime about certain behaviour in Victoria. I would have to say I think the employers in Victoria in the building industry could lift their game and they have a responsibility to ensure that the full provisions of the Act are properly observed.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

How do you respond to criticism that these moves could affect thousands of jobs in the building industry?

 

REITH:

 

Victoria has paid very dearly for high level of industrial action and coercive behaviour for many years and if we had a better observance of the law in Victoria in the building industry that would lower costs in the building industry and that would be a tremendous benefit to the Victorian taxpayer.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

Will the Federal Government be doing anything to perhaps improve the employment situation where these jobs are lost?

 

REITH:

 

Well the jobs lost claim is simply a claim being made by the unions, the fact of the matter is that you know in some parts of the building industry we would have more jobs if the final product was more competitively priced, it would be more competitively priced if the law was more fully observed and some of the coercive behaviour of some of the parties in Victoria was no longer tolerated.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

You see the trade union movement trying to drive a wedge between yourself and Jeff Kennett in Victoria?

 

REITH:

 

You would need a bloody big wedge.

 

For further information contact Ian Hanke: 0419 484 095

 

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