Independent Senator for Victoria John Madigan has questioned the government’s exclusive focus on union corruption in its quest to re-introduce the Australian Building and Corruption Commission.
Senator Madigan said: “If the government were to put up legislation aimed at stamping out corruption and criminal conduct across the board I’d sign up tomorrow, but I continue to have serious reservations about the ABCC Bill in its current form.
“When constituents approach me complaining of corruption, unfair practices and unconscionable conduct their complaints inevitably relate to their treatment at the hands of banks, financial planners, lawyers, accountants, valuers, doctors, builders, major supermarket chains or government departments. Not once has a constituent approached me to complain that they were ripped off by their union, yet this seems to be the government’s exclusive focus.
“While I am all for stamping out illegal activities wherever they occur, the government’s approach has more than a whiff of ideology about it.
“It is not just a happy coincidence for the coalition that Heydon’s report appeared at the beginning of an election year. This gives it ammunition to firstly, pressure the Senate to pass anti-union laws it previously rejected and secondly, to fight an election campaign on this issue against an opponent it hopes will be sullied through its association with the union movement.
“Nor is it coincidence that the timing of this report coincided with the release of the productivity commission’s Workplace Relations Framework report, which recommends the abolition of Sunday penalty rates, among other things. I am deeply concerned this forms part of a broader strategy to weaken the unions, leaving a second term Coalition government well-placed to introduce Workchoices like reforms.”
Senator Madigan said he would raise these issues in a meeting with Minister Cash later this week.