AUSTRALIAN GREENS' DISSENT REPORT
There is no justification for the coercive powers that cover the
building industry to be extended for another two years.
It is on this basis that the Greens are recommending that the Construction
Industry Amendment (Protecting Witnesses) Bill 2015 (bill) is not passed.
The current powers of inspectors operating under the Fair Work Act 2009
are adequate to allow for satisfactory investigations. These inspectors are
able to enforce industrial laws. The Fair Work Ombudsman, as an industrial
regulator, has the necessary powers to be an effective body for the industry.
The Greens are opposed to the use of coercive powers in the industrial
context. These powers and the associated criminal sanctions have no place in a
democratic society. There is no justification for introducing this measure
which allows certain workers to be secretly interrogated. These measures are
inconsistent with international labour standards.
Workers in the construction industry should come under the same laws as
all other workers. If this bill is passed it will mean that workers could be
subject to arbitrary interrogations. This is a form of harassment and
intimidation that runs counter to the norms of a fair society.
It is relevant to consider where support for this legislation is coming
from. Vigorous support is coming from those who profit enormously in the
construction industry. As many construction company owners mistakenly equate
union activity with reduced profitability, they have in turn supported coercive
powers executed by a publicly funded prosecutor of unions and workers.
The regulation of the construction industry should come under the same
regime as that which covers all workers and their employers.
As the Combined Construction Unions note in their submission, the Wilcox
Inquiry did not support the extension of coercive powers beyond 2015. As the
...Wilcox was satisfied that the Parliament, in introducing the
Fair Work Act, had recently considered what the federal labour inspectorate
should look like and what the necessary and appropriate powers of such a body
There should be no separate agency and no separate powers in the form
outlined in this legislation.
The Greens recommend that the Construction Industry Amendment
(Protecting Witnesses) Bill 2015 is not passed.
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