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Thursday, 3 March 2016
Page: 3062


Ms GAMBARO (Brisbane) (10:22): Bring back the ABCC! I rise today to speak of the union wrongdoing and thuggery in my electorate of Brisbane. The royal commission into union corruption was an explosive inquiry which, despite partisan approaches to industrial relations in Australia, would horrify any objective Australian. Clearly, the union movement is in disarray. It is broken. Equally bereft of membership and morality, it is evident more than ever that we must reform the industrial relations system after six years of Labor disparity.

Union membership has plunged from 40 per cent of the workforce to 15 per cent in a little over two decades. They have become unrepresentative of the general population and their relevance to them.

The construction industry stands apart from other sectors in terms of industrial lawlessness. Industrial laws and penalties in this industry are seen as no more serious than a speeding ticket. You speed, you pay the fine and then the offending conduct continues, time and time again.

The government has a responsibility to ensure that our laws are strong enough to deter people from breaking the law and that there is an effective regulator to prosecute wrongdoers when they act unlawfully. When laws are repeatedly flouted and do not act as a deterrent, it is really clear that those laws have to be strengthened. When there is an effective regulator on the job who enforces the law with meaningful penalties, people will think twice about breaking those laws.

As soon as Labor abolished the ABCC, the industry returned to the bad old days. I just want to recount one of those bad-old-days incidents: the building of Common Ground. This is a wonderful project in South Brisbane. It is a 10-storey complex for homeless people. The unions even instigated delays at Common Ground. They delayed the building of a magnificent building to help the homeless and the vulnerable in Brisbane. How did the CFMEU do that? They glued the padlocks so that construction workers could not get in and they parked trucks across the driveway. On one occasion, this went on for more than a week. It was absolutely disgraceful behaviour.

Throughout the country, and in my electorate of Brisbane, the CFMEU have had many flagrant violations of the law. That was outlined by the Heydon inquiry in absolutely breathtaking detail. Thanks to Labor, they allowed this to continue. When there is an effective regulator enforcing laws with meaningful penalties, there will, once again, be deterrents for breaking the law. We must bring back the rule of law to the union movement. We must bring back the ABCC and allow them to do the great job that they have done in the past and allow productivity to flourish.