The controversial construction industry watchdog has defended spending more than $6000 of taxpayers' money on a lockable coat cupboard and shelving for its boss's office.
The cost of the furniture was revealed in an answer to a Senate estimates question on notice released this week.
The Australian Building and Construction Commission billed taxpayers $6314 for the delivery and installation of the cupboard and shelving during the 2017/18 financial year.
While the ABCC insists it was the cheapest option, long-term adversaries in the union movement seized on the cost.
Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Sally McManus slammed the ABCC over the cupboard, calling for commissioner Stephen McBurney to repay taxpayers for the works.
“It’s unbelievable that the boss of the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison government’s building industry secret police thinks it’s okay to spend more than $6000 of taxpayer money on a place to put his coat,” Ms McManus told AAP.
She accused the ABCC of harassing and coercing construction workers, who are on sites with portable toilets and use temporary structures as lunch rooms.
“Imagine what people working in construction, or the average person working in any industry, would think about spending more than $6000 on a place to put your coat,” Ms McManus said.
“The commissioner should refund taxpayers for this ridiculous and unnecessary expense, and should consider draping his coat over the back of a chair in future.”
In a statement, the ABCC said the coat cupboard was the cheapest option for furnishing the office and stressed it was within the rules of the Australian Public Service.
“The ABCC contracted the original supplier of furniture to make alterations to cabinetry in the commissioner’s office,” the commission’s spokesman told AAP.
“The ABCC complied with the procurement rules of the APS. The refurbishment of the commissioner’s office was undertaken at the most cost-effective available option.”
It is understood the cupboard is used for storing confidential documents, while the shelving also contributed to the cost.
Labor has pledged to abolish the building industry watchdog if it wins the next federal election, while the coalition claims the ABCC plays a crucial role in cracking down on union thuggery.