Vic Opposition Leader Accuses CMFEU of Strong Arming Planning Minister 3

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015
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Victoria’s Planning Minister has been bullied into knocking back planned into knocking back an apartment tower planned by Grocon in the Melbourne CBD against the advice of his department, according to claims by the opposition leader in that state.

In a stinging attack, State Opposition Leader Matthew Guy has claimed the Construction, Mining, Forestry and Energy Union (CFMEU) has bullied State Planning Minister Dick Wynne to refuse permission for construction of the 43 level tower at 85 Spring Street which was planned by building giant Grocon, with whom the union has been locked in a state of fierce workplace relations warfare for several years.

Claiming that the process ‘stinks’, and had ‘all the ingredients for an ombudsman’s investigation’ Guy said Wynne’s decision had been made weeks after his chief of staff met with union officials about the project, and that when he himself had been Planning Minister under the previous government, advice had been given to him that the project should proceed.

“Dick Wynne needs to explain why he failed to take his own independent departmental advice and reject a project weeks after his staff met Grocon’s arch enemy the CFMEU,” Guy said.

Guy’s comments come after Wynne’s rejection of the proposed tower, which was set to replace an existing sixteen story office building currently on the site and would have delivered 335 new apartments geared toward the owner-occupier market but was in a sensitive area close to the Bourke Hill heritage zone established to protect view of the state Parliament.

In his ruling, Wynne said the proposal was too high and too close to other buildings within the precinct.

Despite acknowledging on ABC radio that the union had raised its opposition to a CBD tower during a meeting with his chief of staff whilst he himself had been sick, Wynne denied any suggestion that the union had influenced the decision in any way, and said that the union had respected advice that there could be no discussion in relation to the Grocon development as it was currently being considered by the government.

“Any representations that the CFMEU may have made, they were in relation to a pipeline of works for their employees, and any suggestions that the CFMEU played any role in my decision-making is completely wrong and false,” he said.

The latest developments come amid ongoing hostility between Grocon and the union.

Union officials claim it was ‘pure luck’ that no one was killed last month which a large block of stone plummeted 25 meters from a Grocon site at Martin Place in Sydney.

That incident, union officials say, followed a similar incident at the same site with a 10 kilogram steel pin fell 50 meters onto the street, narrowly missing pedestrians before colliding with a taxi.

Plans for Grocon’s tower had been supported by planning officials but was opposed by Melbourne City Council on the basis of its impact on nearby heritage buildings and the public realm.

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  1. David

    The actions by the new Victorian Government have been contemptible and show their subservience to a spiteful CFMEU. Its unfortunate that the oscillation of governments in Australia swing from the influences of one end of town to the other. It is possible that the Grocon project may have had meritorious planning issues but it is hard to distinguish them in this context. The CFMEU have had it out for Grocon for some years.
    The most concerning trends here are continued industrial lawlessness by the unions and the out of control wage claims now being flowed out across the industry. More on that separately save to say that the future of the ABCC is now in question. Again legitimate criticism can be levelled at the Abbott government over this one sided approach to looking at what really ails our industry. Irrespective the early actions of the Victorian government will have far reaching affects on the cost of construction, the cost of high rise housing and the viability of new commercial investment. Not just in Victoria but nationally. Its lucky that the recent NSW elections did not return a Labour government but the big end of town hold sway there with other challenges to be solved.

  2. chris

    I think the best way to sum up the CMFEU and the previous unions that formed is one of many experiences I had with them .I am a cabinet maker and been in business for over 30 years .I had 2 of my guys installing a control centre in a centre management office at the local shopping centre and called in to see how they were progressing .As I was walking up a gravel path into the complex ,there was a young apprentice trying to tow a air compressor up the hill .As most guys would do ,I gave him a hand to push it up .But unfortunately for me ,a union official was standing watching and asked me if I was a union member ,to which I responded no ,but my employees are ."Too bad mate ,now you have a stop work meet on your hands" I was not allowed to talk at the stop meet and the shopping centre sent me a bill for $32k for the 2 day stop work .this was in about 1982 .My house cost $38k ,luckily I had no money to pay it and eventually they gave up legal proceedings.12 months of no sleep cause I gave someone a hand. And now the b******s have just as much power as they did then ,what a beautiful thing to look forward to

  3. Jack

    I have been in the construction industry for 28 years in Melbourne and I have seen how the unions from BLF, ASC&J, BWIU and now CMFEU have evolved into a very powerful political thug. They now have their puppet in power and Dan will do what ever they tell him to do, because they are very very scary. I have many personal experiences that I will not post here. Heaven help us