Event: Denita Wawn interview with Peta Credlin, Sky News Australia
Date: Thursday 27 October 2022, 6.35pm AEDT
Speakers: Peta Credlin, host Sky News Australia, Denita Wawn, CEO Master Builders Australia Topics: Industrial Relations
Peta Credlin, host Sky News Australia: Joining me now, Master Builders Australia CEO Denita Wawn; know a little bit about the CFMEU. Denita, give us a sense of what this Bill as drafted, introduced into the House today will do to your industry, building and construction?
Denita Wawn, CEO Master Builders Australia: Well, it’s going to be a dramatic change to the industry and the economy as a whole. Bizarrely enough we’ve been at the forefront unfortunately of pattern-style agreements with the CFMEU over a long period of time. And the Bill that was introduced today really enables that across multiple industries and with, of course, the added benefit strikes as well. So, we see this as a return to the 1970s, of a total lack of appreciation the importance of productivity growth in businesses. And of course, a return to centralised wage fixing in effect. What has not been appreciated by this Bill today has been the increase, significant increase, of the role of the Commission in enterprise and their management of their employees and the relationship with employees which is an absolute anathema to what we’ve achieved in industrial relations over the last 30 years or so.
Peta: This exclusion of the CFMEU, is this a sop because the cut through now is there in the community, that’s scrapping the ABCC, the construction watchdog, is a dangerous move and they need to look like at least they are doing something to tackle CFMEU lawlessness?
Denita: Yes, you’re right. We’ve called it a sleight of hand. It’s to look as though something is going is going to be done around the ongoing unlawful action of the CFMEU. It’s far from it. It only relates to one stream of enterprise bargaining. There will be another two streams that still enables the CFMEU to be involved in bargaining. And it’s also got a timeframe on it of 18 months. And so of course the Bill also abolishes the ABCC. So, if there’s no regulator to pull up the unlawful action of a union, then of course, it’s going to be very easy to run down that clock. So, we say it’s a sleight of hand. It is looking to do something but in fact it’s not going to do anything because we assume that union will still use the general enterprise agreement making provisions until such time as that 18 months has gone through. So, it’s not going to help our industry and we know we need more productivity growth but we also know through our research that we’ll have significant productivity losses. And that’s the bizarre thing about the title of the Bill. This is not going to result in secure pay or secure jobs. It’s going to result in the long term with job losses simply because there’s going to be no productivity in the economy.
Peta: I have to get your take on the most militant area of the CFMEU, that’s the area led by John Setka in Victoria. Of course, the Andrews Government up for re-election next month. They say, the government, that it’s not preferencing the CFMEU on many of the state’s multi, multibillion dollar civil projects after the Treasurer Tim Pallas was a guest of honour at a recent private lunch organised by the CFMEU. Now in return, the unions said pretty fulsome in their support of Daniel Andrews. Ignore that flyer up the top, I think that’s just there as a bit of theatre. But this has gone out to CFMEU members, it’s on building sites, it’s encouraging workers to back in the bloke that’s basically giving them all this taxpayer funding. How concerning is the relationship between Andrews and the CFMEU in Victoria?
Denita: Well, it’s obviously a concern where one industrial party has undue influence over a decision maker as a client. We don’t just see that in Victoria, we see that in other jurisdictions as well where there is effectively veto rights on procurement practices that means favoured contractors get the job because they have that close relationship with the CFMEU. So, we of course are concerned about that. We’ve said that in the past. And we continue to say that particularly when the new Albanese Government has said that they’ll introduce similar style of arrangements for federal procurement as well. So that’s something to look forward to next year and as we deal with this first tranche of omnibus industrial relations legislation that provides an opportunity for the unions to get far more of a stranglehold on the way is business is run in this country which will be to the detriment to the economy. There’s no doubt about that.
Peta: There’s no doubt about that. It’s not the safe change people thought they were voting for. Denita Wawn we’ll have to leave it there. We’ll speak again soon.
National Director, Media & Public Affairs
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