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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 12 Hansard (Tuesday, 30 October 2018) . . Page.. 4490 ..


freedom of association and freedom of speech. The “fair work building commission” and their friends the Australian Building and Construction Commission are making it harder for working people to associate, express themselves freely and ultimately join their union. To prevent people from unionising is to empower large companies and make it harder for workers to argue for safety changes, for pay rises and for better conditions.

One recent change which, frankly, borders on the ludicrous is the ban on union paraphernalia on construction sites. In what one assumes is a fit of madness, the fair work building commission has banned union stickers. That is right: stickers. It really makes you think how feeble the ideological right wing are when they are scared of a few centimetres of plastic on a hard hat. If you believe in free speech, as the hard right conservatives claim to do, why are you scared of stickers? It goes further than small plastic stickers. It goes to flags and equipment that bears a union logo or anything that could be associated with union activity. Can you believe that, in modern Australia, the Eureka flag is banned on worksites?

The Liberals have been trying this for over a decade now, but this time they are blackmailing companies into complying by threatening to withhold government contracts. Imagine that! A government issuing threats to businesses because they have a good relationship with a union! Is this really modern-day Australia? There will never be justice while the ABCC and fair work building commission exist with the powers they have and the hard right ideological viewpoints they hold. They need to be abolished.

In justifying this limitation on the right to freedom of expression, the building code explanatory statement states:

… the limitation is reasonable, necessary and proportionate in the pursuit of the legitimate policy objective of protecting the rights and freedoms of employees in the building and construction industry to choose to become, or not become, a member of a building association and ensuring that this choice does not impact on an employee’s ability to work on a particular site.

What a joke! It makes no sense. It is not reasonable. It is not necessary. It is not proportionate.

We need a federal government that is more concerned with going after dodgy contractors and bosses who cheap out on safety than going after hardworking Australians. This federal Liberal government have put an enormous amount of money and effort into destroying the union movement, and it shows, with their strange ideas like banning stickers and flags and taking free speech with them in pursuit of it. People have the freedom to associate with groups like unions as they wish, and they should have their fundamental right to express themselves through speech protected, not attacked.

The federal government and its lackeys are attempting to coerce businesses into becoming anti-union, to deny unions their legitimate role in workplaces. They are ideological zealots, convinced that unions are evil and cannot be trusted. But the


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