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Address to Building Workers’ rally: Town Hall Square, Sydney: 27 October 2003.

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CRAIG EMERSON Member for Rankin


27 October 2003

Address to Building Workers’ Rally Town Hall Square Sydney

We dedicate this rally to the memory of 16 year old Joel Exner who died last week, Dean McGoldrick, a 17 year old who died 3 ½ years ago and to all those who have died in accidents on building sites around Australia.

We dedicate this rally to the grieving of Joel’s mother Sue, Dean’s mother Robyn and all the mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters and sons and daughters of those who have lost their lives on building sites.

And we commit this rally to the health and safety of building workers in NSW and right around Australia.

We rightly remember those who have died defending our country. It’s about time we remembered those who have died building our country.

John Howard has developed a bill out of the Cole Royal Commission that would make it almost impossible for building workers to take industrial action against employer breaches of occupational health and safety.

The bill would also severely restrict entry onto building sites of union officials and union safety experts to enforce health and safety regulations.

Who’ll enforce occupational health and safety regulations if unions don’t?

John Howard’s inspectors won’t.

His building commission is not a watchdog, it’s an attack dog.

Contact: Craig Emerson 0418 781 386

Contact: Craig Emerson 0418 781 386

It has been formed out of the Cole Royal Commission that found only two breaches of occupational health and safety regulations Australia wide.

Most Australians were proud of the building of the Sydney Olympics facilities. The Sydney Olympics were built by union members, including many of you here today.

They were built ahead of time, under budget and with one fatality - one too many.

Compare that with the Athens Olympics facilities currently under construction. They are being built with non-union labour. They are behind time, above budget and already there have been at least 10 fatalities, with many others maimed.

The Athens model is John Howard’s dream come true.

When they tabled their building and construction bill the Government complained that it costs more to put a wall on a high-rise building than on a house.

So it should. Working on high-rise buildings is dangerous!

Joel had no harness, no guard rail and no scaffolding.

Cutting costs, cutting corners and cutting safety might be the Howard way but it is not Labor’s way.

Labor will stand by you.

We will oppose John Howard’s bill that threatens the safety of building workers around Australia.

We commit our opposition to Howard’s bill to Joel, Dean, to their grieving parents and to the safety of all building workers here in Sydney and around Australia.