Doubling Penalties On Rogue Construction Unions Will Safeguard Economic Recovery

The Coalition’s promise to double the penalties for construction unions who repeatedly and deliberately commit breaches of the law is good news for the construction industry, the economy, and the community.

“It reinforces the need for voters to tell Labor to keep the construction watchdog and not abolish the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC),” Denita Wawn, CEO of Master Builders Australia said.

“Construction activity is driving the economic recovery in communities around the country. We cannot allow the activities of construction union bullies to put that at risk,” she said.

“The construction unions, particularly the CFMEU, continue to target builders, particularly small building businesses with tactics to bully, intimidate and coerce them to sign up to union deals,” Denita Wawn said.

“Every day on building sites, construction unions threaten with tactics that cause disruption and stoppages to projects. This undermines the productivity of the industry when the economy can least afford it,” she said.

“Labor’s policy to abolish the ABCC will put economic recovery at risk,” Denita Wawn said.

“Without the ABCC in place to crack down on the unlawful behaviour of construction unions and prosecute them under the law there would be nothing to hold them to account,” she said.

Last week the High Court noted the importance of penalties in ensuring building unions comply with the law, emphasising penalties must make ongoing and deliberate law-breaking something that is too expensive to maintain. Since 2016, the CFMEU have racked up over $14.5 million in penalties for well over 1600 separate contraventions of workplace laws, something they’ve previously brushed off as simply ‘just a cost of doing business’. If that’s the type of law-breaking business that building unions want to run, then the laws must keep up and these increased penalties will hopefully make them think twice before breaking it again. Or, they could just not break the law. All other unions seem able to play by the rules and comply with the law, so why not building unions?

“The Coalition’s promise to extend the length of greenfield agreements is a positive reform that will help generate new projects, new investment, and new jobs. This change not only delivers more certainty, but more opportunities for construction and this will help our members make an even larger contribution to the post-covid recovery and future growth of the economy,” Denita Wawn said.

“Master Builders polling of builders and tradies and soft voters across 40 marginal seats shows that a plan for economic recovery is what they care about at this election. Policies that will stop construction unions putting the economic recovery at risk is a positive move,” Denita Wawn said.

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