CFEMU and the ALP - Remove the ties that bind
Andrew Wall MLA
Member for Brindabella
Shadow Minister for Small Business
In recent times the Australian public have heard some harrowing stories from the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption. These stories are not new to the local construction sector, and have been around for years. What has changed is that now these stories have been told publicly and have the face and names of many reputable builders and contractors from our local industry.
The actions of Canberras own branch of the CFMEU have featured prominently in the Royal Commission hearings and many local construction businesses have stood up with courage and tenacity to share their experiences. These local businesses have taken big risks in doing so. They have risked their reputations, their livelihoods and their ability to obtain work in the ACT if the status quo is to continue.
Allegations levelled in the Royal Commission hearings have resulted in criminal charges being laid against certain members of the ACT CFMEU, what is even more alarming is the fact that some of these same individuals were office holders within the ACT Labor Party.
Worryingly, allegations of cartel behaviour and price fixing were also made during the Royal Commission hearings. The evidence has indicated that competition is a myth in the ACT under the CFMEUs rules. Good businesses simply cannot thrive in this environment and the ACT community as a whole will never get fair price if these activities are in play. Fixed pricing unnecessarily drives the prices up on every commodity. Effectively, when the competition edge is taken out of the market place and back room deals decide the pricing structure and ultimately the cost of building work, the true cost is unknown and the flow on effect impacts every aspect of our property sector from government contracts to first home buyers.
It is no secret that the links between the CFMEU and the ALP particularly are strong very strong; in the ACT these links are no different. In fact over the past years both the ACT ALP and the ACT Greens have pocketed over $300,000 in donations from the CFMEU and its associated entities.
Probably the most disappointing outcome of the Royal Commission hearings has been the deafening silence from the ACT Government. Silence from the ACT Government in the face of such damning testimony could well be interpreted by local business that all of this will be ignored if not completely dismissed and worst of all, the behaviours will continue unchecked.
Recently in the ACT Legislative Assembly I called on ACT Labor and the ACT Greens to suspend all financial and political links with the CFMEU pending the outcome of the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance. Not surprisingly, this motion was voted down by the ACT Labor MLAs with the assistance of their Green counterpart. Also not surprisingly, Labor and The Greens will continue to be the beneficiaries of the Unions largesse as we head towards a Federal and local election in the second half of 2016.
Most disturbing of all is the ACT Governments continuing silence and inaction on this issue, in my view this is as worrying as the allegations themselves.
As the only elected representatives in the ACT to have come from the construction industry I believe it is incumbent upon all of us to fight for honesty and transparency in the Canberra construction industry, this is something I wholeheartedly believe in and will continue to strive towards.