I have been intrigued about why Daniel Andrews canned the Melbourne East West road link. The standard answer to save inner city seats does not wash as those seats were always going Green and in mollifying the inner city denizens he aggravates potential users from more winnable seats in the East.
The Victorian ALP government claims the East West link doesn’t pass a cost benefit test. Whether or not this is true (one study by the Coalition government said it didn’t, another claimed it did) Andrews did not have the information to make that claim until he became Premier. Moreover, he has announced a clutch of rail infrastructure projects that would be an order of magnitude less cost beneficial than the East West link.
So is the answer that the puppeteers at the CFMEU told him to do so and if so why? One answer is that there is on-going friction between the CFMEU and Lend Lease, the major contractor for the road. But Lend Lease, in spite of difficulties with rogue unions, does do deals with them in the end, deals which the community pays for in excessive costs.
An alternative answer lies with the Construction Code that the previous government insisted upon for contractors who tendered for the project. This essentially overrode the EBA by getting rid of many costly provisions within it and perhaps even making it a non-union site. The unions unsuccessfully sought to have the Construction Code declared illegal on grounds that it breached the Industrial Relations Act.
The Independent Contractors of Australia have estimated that the CFMEU’s EBA raises costs by 20-34 per cent. Not only would the project as negotiated have prevented the excessive costs of the EBA, but it would have illustrated the benefits of avoiding union collusive agreements more generally.
In ensuring the project is abandoned, the union sends a strong message to all in the community that the it is bigger than any government and trying to by-pass it will bring consequences.
h.t Ken Phillips