This is so typical of Malcolm Turnbull: seeming rather than doing. He will do anything to appear to succeed by getting the ABCC bill passed, while ensuring that we are actually all worse off and Lendlease and the CFMEU have won.
The amendments to the ABCC bill are so bad that we would be better off without it. The concessions are so anti-competitive and onerous that any net benefits that might have been secured are now in the parliamentary waste paper bin.
Just check out all the anti-competitive nonsense about procurement preferences (that run counter to our trade agreement obligations and WTO rules) and the restrictions on 457 visa holders. All this is just adding to the costs of construction projects when the aim was to reduce them.
And just in case you thought there might be some bite to the code and the ABCC, Hinch has now caved to the lies peddled by Lendlease and the CFMEU about the need to grandfather the arrangement even though it has been the intention of the government to date code-compliant agreements from April 2014. (Other companies followed this guideline and have refused to lie down for the CFMEU – more fools them, it would seem.)
But it turns out that the Lendlease-CFMEU agreement contains the following clause:
7.3 Compliance for government funded building work
(a) It is recognised by the Parties that whilst this Agreement is in operation, Commonwealth, State or Territory Governments may impose particular requirements on the content of enterprise agreements in order for the Company to be eligible for future government funded building work. It is essential that the Agreement is compliant with any such requirements in order for the Company to remain eligible to tender for future government funded building work. If any new requirements are promulgated during the life of this Agreement, which impact on the content of this Agreement, this clause will be applied.
(b) In this event, the Parties agree to apply to the FWC to terminate this Agreement in accordance with the Fair Work Act (within 7 days of any such requirement being promulgated) and the Company and Employees will commit to negotiating a replacement Agreement which is compliant with any such requirements.
In other words, Hinch has been hoodwinked because Lendlease and the CFMEU are completely geared up to terminate their agreements and negotiated code-compliant agreements. There is no need for two year grace period.
Here is a list of the ridiculous concessions our current Prime Minister has agreed to (of course, he doesn’t have a clue about this stuff and it shows):
Malcolm Turnbull is set to secure the passage of legislation to re-establish the Australian Building and Construction Commission on Wednesday.
The deal came after the government made further concessions to Nick Xenophon on procurement and compromised with Derryn Hinch over the retrospective application of tough new rules on workplace agreements.
The Senate also passed tough new limits on the use of foreign workers in the construction industry, which the government opposed but One Nation supported.
Senator Hinch, the last of the Senate crossbenchers holding out on the government, gave the green light on Thursday morning after reaching a deal with the Prime Minister over retrospectivity.
Under the original bill, a tough new building code outlawing so-called union-friendly clauses in building site enterprise bargaining agreements would have applied retrospectively to every agreement signed since April 2014.
Senator Hinch, backed by Senators Rod Culleton and Xenophon, opposed retrospectivity. Under the compromise deal, all building site EBAs will have to conform with the building code within two years from today’s passage of the legislation, which will be November 30, 2018.
With the requisite eight crossbenchers now secured, the bill could pass the Senate as early as lunchtime.
One of the bigger concessions, secured Tuesday night by the Nick Xenophon Team, concerned the procurement of all products and services by the Australian government.
From March 1, 2017, Australian standards must be met for procured goods and services, with requirements of certification and auditing of those standards.
For procurements above $4 million the economic benefits of the procurement to the Australian economy must be considered. This does not mandate the procurement of Australian products.
Also, the regulatory frameworks involving labour regulations, including ethical employment practices, occupational health and safety, and environmental impacts must be considered in any procurement, something which will weigh against cheap imports from China..
For procurements above $4 million the economic benefits of the procurement to the Australian economy must be considered — a first in Commonwealth procurement rules.
“Until now, the Commonwealth government has been spending $59 billion on goods and services without having to consider compliance with Australian standards, employment and environmental regulations, and the broader impact on the economy,” Senator Xenophon said.
“Last night that all changed.
“Until now, the Commonwealth government has been spending $59 billion on goods and services without having to consider compliance with Australian standards, employment and environmental regulations, and the broader impact on the economy.”
The NXT also secured a commitment that the ongoing delivery of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan would be elevated to the Premiers and Prime Minster through the COAG process and all involved would be grilled by Senate estimates twice a year.
And the government also promised NXT to establish a task force to look at a uniform system to protect subcontractors.
The Senate introduced accountability measures for the ABCC itself, including making its decisions subject to judicial review.
Under an amendment put bu Labor and passed with the support of One Nation, there will be curbs on the use of 457 visas for imported skilled workers in the construction sector
The new building code must ensure that no person is employed to undertake building work unless, the position is first advertised in Australia, the advertising was targeted in such a way that a significant proportion of suitably qualified and experienced Australian citizens and Australian permanent residents would be likely to be informed about the position; any skills or experience requirements set out in the advertising were appropriate to the position, and the employer demonstrates that no Australian citizen or Australian permanent resident is suitable for the job.
Labor Senate leader Penny Wong said the the government was so desperate to pass the bill it was “unrecognisable” (so true).