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Thursday, 21 June 2007
Page: 81


Mr CAMERON THOMPSON (2:39 PM) —Hear, hear, Mr Speaker! My question is to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport and Regional Services. Would the Deputy Prime Minister advise the House how the government’s investment in road and rail will boost the Australian economy, including in my electorate of Blair, where the population of Ipswich is set to double to 330,000 people in the next 18 years? Are there any threats to the delivery of this investment?


Mr VAILE (Minister for Transport and Regional Services) —I thank the member for Blair for his question. The member for Blair would be well aware that the government is in the middle of delivering $38 billion worth of investment, via the Australian construction industry, in infrastructure in Australia—much-needed infrastructure that will power growth and productivity in the Australian economy well into the future. Of course, very important to that in south-east Queensland is the level of commitment from our government in terms of making sure the infrastructure in south-east Queensland keeps pace with the growth in population that the member for Blair indicated in his question, particularly in that area outside Brisbane and out towards Ipswich.

One of the significant announcements already made, a project to which funding will be going in the early stages of and through AusLink 2, is the development of the Goodna bypass between Brisbane and Ipswich. It is a visionary project that has been championed by the member for Blair against the nay-sayers in the Queensland Labor government and others—


Mr Bevis —And the Queensland Liberal Party.


Mr VAILE —and one that shows a great deal—


Mr Bevis —And the Queensland Liberal Party.


The SPEAKER —The member for Brisbane!


Mr VAILE —of vision—


Mr Bevis interjecting


The SPEAKER —The member for Brisbane!


Mr VAILE —building a piece of infrastructure that will last for 30 years after it has been built—


Mr Bevis interjecting


The SPEAKER —I warn the member for Brisbane!


Mr VAILE —and that is what we are on about. But we want to make sure that this record level of investment that we propose to make in infrastructure across Australia delivers on the ground—that every dollar we have allocated gets spent on building infrastructure, not wasted on either inefficient state bureaucracies or inefficient work practices in those industries.

We have seen and heard a lot recently about some of those practices that used to exist in Australia—about a lot of the union intimidation that used to take place when subcontractors were not complying with their wishes. I mentioned earlier this week an example in my own area of a family small business that was nearly drummed out of business, sent bankrupt, because of intimidation by the CFMEU in the construction industry. To their credit, those people went along and gave evidence to the Cole royal commission into the building industry, and as a result of that and other evidence the recommendations of the Cole royal commission were implemented and today we have the Australian Building and Construction Commission as a watchdog, to ensure that those intimidatory practices no longer exist in construction industry workplaces in Australia.

As the Treasurer and the Prime Minister have indicated in their comments, what we have been witnessing, what Australians have been appalled by witnessing on television in the last 24 hours, is evidence that those practices do still exist in this industry—evidence that is available only because of the existence of the Australian Building and Construction Commission, which provides support and advice to employers in these industries and on these construction sites across Australia. Now, we know what the Labor Party is going to do. We know what the Leader of the Opposition is going to do: he will bone out this commission between now and 2010 until it no longer exists. There will be nobody there protecting the investment that taxpayers make, protecting employers in these industries from the thuggery of some of these unionists like Joe McDonald in Western Australia.

But it does not stop there. That evidence has come from the west coast, but there are also all sorts of interesting activities on the east coast—and not just by the CFMEU; this is rampant throughout the union movement. We read with interest a story in the media today, in the Daily Telegraph, entitled ‘Union violence: officials charged’. The story read:

Two National Union of Workers officials, organisers Charlie Morgan and Bruno Mendonca, were yesterday charged with assaulting and intimidating a Transport Workers Union official, allegedly stomping on and fracturing his feet and throwing him against a wall.

These are not other workers. These are not employers. These are not employees intimidating other employees. This is cannibalism within the union movement. This is about turf warfare. This is the NUW wanting to muscle up and strengthen its numbers in advance of the possible election of a Rudd Labor government—and they are salivating about getting back into power.

Do you know what the slogan of the NUW is? It is not ‘The interests of workers’, it is not ‘Improving the pay of workers’ and it is not ‘Improving the safety of workers’. Their slogan is: ‘Organising for power’—that is, political power in Australia through the Australian Labor Party. We all know the support they have provided for the Australian Labor Party over the years. While the coalition government is putting in place common-sense policies that are delivering new jobs in the Australian economy, the Labor Party is preparing to wreck the economy and hand power back to the union movement.