Page 876 - Week 03 - Thursday, 10 March 2005

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support these measures designed to end the culture of intimidation and unlawful behaviour that goes on in the building and construction industry?

MS GALLAGHER: Of course the ACT government does not support any corrupt or illegal activity in any industry anywhere across the country or in the ACT. We are not supportive of the commonwealth’s ideologically driven agenda to break the power of the CFMEU, which is what it is trying to do through legislation in response to the Cole royal commission. That legislation did not get through the last parliament but the commonwealth are hopeful that it will post 1 July. This always raises some questions about legislation that they are sitting on until 1 July, because it usually means that it would not get through unless they had a majority—

Mr Mulcahy: They introduced it yesterday.

MS GALLAGHER: They may have introduced it yesterday, but I would bet some money on it not passing until after July. Anyway, the commonwealth government has spent millions and millions of dollars trying to break the power of the CFMEU, through their Cole royal commission—volumes of work, years of evidence—and they have not come up with anything. They really have not come up with anything. They have been unsuccessful in prosecutions. They have not been able to find exactly what they wanted to find about this inherently evil trade union.

In the ACT there is no evidence of corrupt practices in the construction industry. In fact, you should talk to industry groups—who would not participate in the Cole royal commission hearings when they were offered them: “Come down here. Come in, industry, and tell us how bad your ACT CFMEU is.” No-one wanted to; no-one would. They work cooperatively here—

Mr Mulcahy: I wonder why.

MS GALLAGHER: If Mr Mulcahy knows of some corrupt or illegal practice operating in the ACT, he should be reporting that. As usual, they can sit here and laugh and mock that this thing is going on, that the CFMEU are engaging in some sort of corrupt or illegal activity—but they should come up with the evidence. No-one has been able to do so. What operates here in the ACT is a very cooperative, collaborative industry. We are frequently in meetings with industry and unions where they all work very well together. In fact, in discussions at the time the Cole royal commission was around, many leading members of the building and construction industry spoke to the government and said that the industry here operated so well that they really did not want to see anything that was divisive and that they would not participate in what was a politically run agenda to smash the power of an influential trade union.

The government does not support what the commonwealth government is planning on doing; nor does any other state or territory government around Australia. We will be arguing against it. As usual, that will probably fall on deaf ears with Minister Andrews, who is just fulfilling Mr Howard’s instructions as his foot soldier. But we will oppose it and we will be looking at ways to continue to support the active involvement of the trade unions and industry working cooperatively in the building and construction industry in the ACT.

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