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Thursday, 24 June 2004
Page: 31739

Mr ANDREWS (Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service) (9:37 AM) —The last remarks from the member for Rankin quite clearly differentiate this side of politics from the other. The abolition of the Building Industry Taskforce says quite clearly and unambiguously that the Labor Party is not interested in cleaning up the thuggery and intimidation that goes on in the building industry in Australia. The remarks of the member for Rankin clearly state that.

I will briefly answer a number of myths perpetrated by the member for Rankin in his remarks. He says that this is the first opportunity we have had to look at this. The reality is that these provisions are based on the provisions in the Building and Construction Industry Improvement Bill 2003, which the Senate Employment, Workplace Relations and Education References Committee has been looking into around Australia for months, even though the Labor Party are implacably imposed to it. They have had that bill and these provisions for months. The provisions are the same as those in that bill. The reality is that the Labor Party remain opposed to them, and that is the bottom line.

The member for Rankin and the member for Burke made some comments about the appointment of Mr Jonathan Hamberger to the Industrial Relations Commission. I thought the Leader of the Opposition wanted to ban all hamburgers. He is probably out at McDonald's this morning.

The SPEAKER —The minister will address his remarks through the chair!

Mr ANDREWS —For the record, I inform the House that there are 17 members of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission who have union backgrounds, compared to 16 who have employer backgrounds. The facts speak for themselves. Finally, there were some myths perpetrated about the powers of the Building Industry Taskforce and some suggestion that these were akin to ASIO-like powers. I point out to the House that the ASIO regime focuses on detention and depriving people of their civil liberties. The Building Industry Taskforce has no such powers now, nor will it have them under this legislation. There is simply no comparison between the two. I will not go on and answer all the other rubbish we have heard from the member for Rankin. I simply commend the amendments to the House, saying that this is a significant improvement in terms of ensuring that the rule of law can apply in the building and construction industry in Australia.

The SPEAKER —The question is that the amendments be agreed to.

Question put.