Major construction projects across Australia, including the Adelaide Oval rebuild and the Brisbane Children’s Hospital, have been held up due to union thuggery, Master Builders Australia says.
Master Builders chief executive Wilhelm Harnisch said since the abolition of the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) in 2012, the CFMEU “considered itself back in town”.
“There’s been a return of thuggery, intimidation and in some cases corruption,” Mr Harnisch said on Thursday.
He said Master Builders wanted to see the ABCC reinstated to regulate the building industry.
But Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union(CFMEU) secretary Dave Noonan said Mr Harnisch was trying to bring back unpopular industrial relations laws Work Choices.
“In calling for the return of the ABCC, they support the reintroduction of Work Choices. They support disreputable property developers who are donors to the Liberal Party,” Mr Noonan said in a statement.
Boral chief executive Mike Kane gave evidence to the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption on Wednesday and said his company was an unwitting victim of a war between the CFMEU and developer Grocon.
Mr Kane said the CFMEU banned Boral’s concrete trucks from Melbourne’s city centre, despite a Supreme Court injunction, in its attempts to hurt Grocon.
Mr Harnisch said Boral’s experience was backed up by other builders around the country.
“Mike Kane’s testimony would not … be a surprise to anyone who’s been in the industry,” he said.
Australian Constructors Association executive director Lindsay Le Compte said industrial disputes flared up when laws were tipped too far in favour of one side.
“It comes and goes in part because of the type of regulatory structures in place,” Mr Le Compte said.
He said a reinstated ABCC would enforce the law on building sites.
A bill to reinstate the ABCC is before the new Senate.