Commentators and politicians should be responsible in debating proposed ABCC bill

Politicians and commentators should be measured and responsible in discussing the proposed reintroduction of the Australian Building and Construction Commission and Building Code, said UnionsACT secretary Alex White today.

It is very important for commentators and politicians to avoid misrepresenting what the Building Code and ABCC are and their scope. Uncritically repeating the partisan, politically charged rhetoric risk distorting an important public debate.

A fact sheet has been released (PDF, download here) addressing the most common misrepresentations made about the ABCC and Building Code.

Even proponents of the ABCC are calling out misleading statements regarding the ABCC. CEO of the Master Builders of Australia, Wilhelm Harnisch said on Tuesday on ABC radio that “people who are saying this is about dealing with criminality and corruption are missing the point”. Harnisch went on to say: “I mean, the matter of criminality and fraud are totally separate from the ABCC and there are agencies that can deal with it.”

The ABCC is not proposed to have any powers in relation to corruption, and it is not proposed to have any powers into any other criminal matter.

The following quotes are attributable to Alex White, Secretary of UnionsACT:

“Politicians and media pundits should be certain to not use their positions to mislead the public about the role and powers of the proposed ABCC.

“The ABCC has no powers or jurisdiction over criminality in the construction industry or alleged corruption in unions.

“Of the seventy-nine recommendations from the recent royal commission, not one recommended the reintroduction of the ABCC.

“The bill to restore the ABCC was introduced to parliament before the royal commission was established, pre-empting any possible findings.

“The last time the ABCC was in operation, construction industry fatalities increased by 37 percent and the ABCC did not investigate a single one of the 330 deaths.”

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