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Parliament has passed a bill that will allow the federal government to reinstate the Australian Building and Construction Commission and give the Coalition increased powers to police illegal activity in the construction industry.
“The ABCC is back. The rule of law is back. ” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says. “The bullying and the thuggery will come to an end.”
The bill was passed 36-33, with the Coalition securing several deals with a host of senators, including Nick Xenophon, to provide greater freedom for Australian businesses to pursue government contracts.
The ABCC holds ‘coercive powers’, meaning that it can force people to attend interviews and strip them of their ‘right to silence’ with threats of jail time. It will hold the construction industry to a higher legal standard than the wider workforce, imposing stricter penalties on those who breach industry law, and limit the ability of unions to launch industry actions like strikes or picketing.
“The passage of the bill should put all dodgy union bosses and employers in the building industry who engage in criminal activity on notice that the tough cop is back on the beat.” Former workplace relations minister Eric Abetz says.
The bill has been met with strong opposition from unions, with one website stating that “ice dealers will have even more rights than construction workers.”
Many senators opposed the bill on the basis that it will not actually fight union corruption as claimed.
“It’s bad, poorly drafted legislation, no matter how many times you go back to draft it, no matter how many amendments you put through, it’s still crap.” Independent senator Jacqui Lambie says.
The bill, which was one of the triggers for the July 2nd double-dissolution election, will not go into full effect until 2018.