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Another Bunch of Complete Crap

Malcolm Turnbull has decided that, with the “widespread lawlessness and thuggery” exposed by the Heydon Royal Commission, the government cannot function unless we create a body that strips away the rights of people working in the construction industry.

Except the legislation was introduced in November 2013 well before the Royal Commission was convened and seems to be remarkably prescient about what Heydon’s findings would be.

The explanatory memorandum of the legislation states “The Royal Commission established that building sites and construction projects were hotbeds of intimidation, lawlessness, thuggery and violence,” except they are talking about the 2003 Cole Royal Commission whose findings were uncannily similar to Heydon’s findings, and whose referrals led to NO prosecutions.

The ABCC would see construction industry workers treated in the same way we treat terrorists, taking away the right to silence, the right to legal representation, the right against self-incrimination, the right to tell someone you’ve been interrogated against your will by overreaching bureaucrats.

The memorandum concludes with the statement:

The Bill is compatible with human rights because to the extent that it may limit human rights, those limitations are reasonable, necessary and proportionate.

Eric Abetz, Minister for Employment

Jacqui Lambie was one of the select few politicians who were able to see the chapter of Heydon’s findings that was too explosive and potentially dangerous to be made public. On Q&A last night she said there was nothing in there that wasn’t happening in a whole heap of places – she found it no big deal and considered the hype a con.

The other spin being offered is that the ABCC is crucial for economic growth and led to a 20% increase in productivity. When Leigh Sales quoted the Productivity Commission’s 2014 assessment that the ABCC had no effect on productivity, Malcolm Turnbull said there were reports from private consulting firms showing otherwise. These claims come from a report commissioned by the Howard government and produced by Econtech which has been totally discredited.

The following is the conclusion from a paper written by authors from the Department of Employment Relations, Griffith University and the Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, Queensland State Government, about the Econtech report into the ABCC.

“The exercise by an Australian state agency of coercive powers against construction industry workers has been justified by reference to claimed gains in productivity and hence national welfare. We have examined the data behind the productivity claims and found that they were erroneous, probably due to incorrect transcription, and that the source data indicated no relative productivity gains. The boost to GDP, savings to the CPI and national welfare gains in each of the Econtech reports, estimated as they were ‘from the recent closing of the cost gap between commercial building and domestic housing’, had no basis as there was no ‘closing of the cost gap’. Despite being made aware of this, the ABCC and its consultant, Econtech, stuck to the original claims about the size of productivity and welfare gains from the use of coercive powers. The errors (‘anomalies’) in the 2007 report might be dismissed as an ‘honest mistake’, but can the later insistence on not revising findings be so easily dismissed? Claimed productivity gains from the use of coercive powers are also not discernible in official ABS or Productivity Commission data. The critiques of Toner (2003) and Mitchell (2007) stand. The literature suggests that the unionised building and construction industry would benefit from more cooperative union-management relations. The role of the ABCC has been to penalise cooperative relations, and so it might come as no surprise that previous policy makers’ productivity expectations have not been met. However, there is some evidence that there has been a shift of income shares in the industry from labour to capital, with coercive powers reducing strikes and labour’s bargaining power.

We also draw attention to weaknesses in public debate over these issues. Little critical thought was given in the media to the Econtech reports on the building and construction industry, even though its similarly timed report on industrial relations reform policies was received with considerable scepticism. While some union officials in the industry have clearly harmed their own cause, the responsibility also lies with the media, with commentators and with policy makers to examine the evidence put before them and assess it on its merits. Attaching numbers to something does not make it true. The Econtech experience should be illustrative of a wider lesson for the media and commentators: to treat with extreme scepticism commissioned ‘modelling’ or like reports prepared by commercial consultancy firms for interest groups, especially when the findings advance that group’s political interests. There is good reason for the adage, ‘he who pays the piper, calls the tune’.

This close analysis of the data relied upon by the ABCC also raises serious questions about the nature of regulation in the building and construction industry. The alleged economic benefits have been used to justify the denial of basic rights to employees in the industry, rights which everybody else is, at least at present, entitled to enjoy. In short, there do not appear to be any significant economic benefits that warrant the loss of rights involved in coercive arrangements. A more cooperative, less punitive approach by policy makers to the industry would not only be consistent with better human rights, it might even be consistent with better productivity.”

Malcolm, the crossbenchers, and mainstream journalists, would do well to read that report in full.

The ABCC, whilst having draconian powers, would not be able to prosecute anyone. In the absence of a Federal ICAC, the appropriate body to deal with any corruption and lawlessness is the Australian Crime Commission.

We have been deliberately manipulated to this point from the moment the Abbott government was elected. It is the expected and usual union bashing that conservative governments have no qualms about spending hundreds of millions on whenever they have control of the Treasury.

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35 comments

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  1. Salstarat

    I watched Q&A last night and was extremely impressed with Jacqui Lambie … she is growing into a savvy politician and the way she chewed up the moron, Josh Frydenberg, and spat him out last night was a joy to watch! Frydenberg represents everything repugnant about the bible thumping, sanctimonious hypocritical sociopaths in the LNP who are absolutely DETERMINED to follow the virulent, undemocratic IPA agenda and attack, vilify and tear down EVERY union in Australia starting with the construction industry union. Lambie made him look like the total fool that he is. In addition, the articulate young gay man in the audience absolutely demoralised the LNP and the way they are procrastinating and using young people in the LGBT community as “bullets” to push through their vile, homophobic agenda which reveals just how evil and self serving the sociopaths in the LNP really are! As for the Double Dissolution … BRING IT ON!! The hatred, anger and disillusionment for this mad, bad and dangerous government is palpable and the X-Y Gen are leading the charge against them … the LNP will go down in history as the most regressive, draconian, morally bankrupt pack of homophobic, misogynistic, thieves, LIARS and self serving rorters in living memory!

  2. Kronomex

    If you are the LNP and you have no policies a hoary old Union scare campaign is just the thing to move peoples attention away from a crippled useless gubmint (they don’t deserve the word “government). Using the ABCC as a election trigger is a true sign of desperation. The sad part is that these corporate, and Murdoch, owned toadies will probably get back in, hopefully with a reduced margin.

  3. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Malcolm and his malcontents in the LNP want to push the ABCC down everybody’s throats so that they can impress their dumb party faithful by union bashing.

    If Malcolm was fair dinkum about corruption, he would be widening the terms of reference of the ABCC to encompass all industries and all corrupt participants, starting with the greedy, corrupt corpocracy and pollies who play happy families in public/private partnerships.

  4. terry

    good to see lambie talk some sense and hold her tongue . she has grown , I was wrong

  5. Terry2

    As a result of the highly refined negotiating skills of Tony Abbott – don’t laugh, you just ask him – the ABCC legislation was defeated by just one vote in August 2015 ; Tony’s Registered Organisation legislation was also lost by one vote in August 2015.

    So, isn’t it just a matter of getting Tony back to do the negotiations with the Cross Bench ?

    Simple really, we badly misjudged Tony – just ask him !

  6. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Lambie is another one of the crossbenchers, who Labor and the Greens should be inviting into The Alliance, along with Muir and Lazarus.

  7. Kaye Lee

    Last night I watched Malcolm on 7:30 report, Frydenberg on Q&A and Brandis on Lateline. Not one of them did well because they are arguing about things no-one cares about. Frydenberg copped a pasting about the Safe Schools Coalition program.

    They will be going to an election using union bashing and apparently a company tax rate cut. Try selling that to the people who have faced stagnant wage growth and who have been told for a couple of years that bracket creep was a huge problem and who now know that big companies pay no tax anyway. Malcolm keeps talking about protecting entrepreneurs and investors who go bankrupt. Try selling that to creditors and “mum and dad” investors who have been burned as they watch corrupt corporate thieves march off with their money. Malcolm talks a lot about innovation. Try selling that to the research bodies that have faced funding cuts and job losses.

  8. Peter John Naughton

    I gagged when watching Ulhmann and someother toady reporting for the ABC about the dynamic and brave Turnbull acting so decisively and maybe setting up an election. Pathetic!

  9. Gangey1959

    From what I watched of it, the “widespread lawlessness and thuggery” mostly came from heydon’s side of the bench.
    Our pm’s ploy to engineer a DD is just such a wank.
    My 29 year old step daughter had NO interest in politics 12 months ago. Since her college friends, both straight and gay have been filling her in on the details, she is more rabid than me. The lnp/ipa dickheads have got no idea what sort of storm they have brewed up, nor how big the teacup is that they are going to be dealing with. Looking for work gen X-Y is going to bite them in the arse big time.
    The sad thing is that after last week it is going to hurt the Greens as well.

  10. Steve Laing

    Malky doesn’t care about the ABCC. Sure he talks a good game, but he wants it to fail so he can have his DD. That is all he wants, because he knows the honeymoon is well and truly over. He thinks that with his own mandate he can finally be the PM that he wants to be, unfortunately when he gets their, he will realise he can’t turn back all the pish he has supported over the last six months without looking like an utter twat. He has checkmated himself into acting as a neo-con Luddite. How he was ever a successful businessman is beyond me.

  11. Miriam English

    I’m sure the old-time white slaveowners thought it was reasonable to avoid giving their slaves any human rights because it would adversely affect their economic return. They may even have been right (though I doubt it). It is easy to think that having to pay their slaves or give them a right to a free and good life meant the slaveowners were more out of pocket. As I say though, I doubt that is true. Freedom brings many benefits. One of those benefits is peace and goodwill. Another is innovation and advancement. Slavery merely maintains the status quo and stifles progress by crushing the humanity out of people.

    It is difficult to believe that both sides would not benefit from a relationship where management and those who do the dangerous physical work actually work together toward a common goal.

    It really looks like the conservative government wants to make workers into slaves. Good luck with that. I had hoped we were past that in the 21st Century. Although… we have loons shouting to return us to Bronze Age superstition, so maybe I’m wrong. Perhaps we’ll have Family First nuts screeching once again to have lesbians burned at the stake. Do these backward-thinking conservative idiots really think Australia will be a better place if we can enslave workers, bully gays, indulge in hate speech, and burn lesbians alive? What are these people thinking????

  12. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Good news Gangey,

    about your daughter becoming politically enlivened. I can feel the growing public passion pumping already.

    This year might be just like 1972: the feeling of deliverance. We just need to be sure what we get is not just a beiger hue of what we’ve got.

    Hence, I’m beating the drum for The Alliance which will deliver a combination of the Greens, a renewed Labor and a selection of sane Independents and progressive micro parties, who will advocate for wide, diverse, compassionate, progressive policies and processes for the common good of everyone and the environment.

  13. Glenn K

    J M-S, I do hope you are correct about the youth (under 30) becoming engaged and politically active. It would be timely and we need it. Looking at the voter demographics and patterns, the LNP are heading for the dustbin of history as their “voting blocks” age and die off. I just don’t want to wait another decade or so for that to happen. We need the youth engaged and caring about their futures NOW!!
    Surely the young puppets coming from the IPA and into parliament (I’m looking at you freedom boy) on a free ride do not represent a generation. If our youth do not get engaged then will have more Tim’s filling up the spaces of parliament…..

  14. Matthew Oborne

    Heydon said publicly the comission found the tip of the iceburg, without presenting any evidence to demonstrate that was the case, How many Judges would make a statement like that and keep their credibility?

  15. townsvilleblog

    So many talented people on this thread, I will be voting Lazarus No1 in Queensland, 2 Labor and 3 Green and 12 LNP and will fill out my Senate ballot paper from this beginning. Malcolm has shit in his own nest calling the DD, bring it on, let’s see the back of this LNP government, once and for all.

  16. randalstella

    Jacqui Lambie says she has seen the secret parts of Heydon’s ‘report’, and says there are nothing to them but a beat-up.
    She is opposed to the ABCC.
    She has a spirit for campaigning that I hope Labor can match.

  17. randalstella

    Whoops. Just saw Kaye Lee made that point in her article.

  18. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    townsvilleblog,

    my understanding is that you don’t have to vote for the LNP at all, so no need to put them 12.

    In the Senate voting changes, you can vote at least 12 choices below-the-line for the Senate and just choose anybody but the Liberals or the Nationals, who you know won’t be preferencing them.

  19. Wayne Turner

    Notice: No mention of the economy. Only union bashing.

    Tony Turnbullsh*t a waste of space.Just like the rest of the Libs.

  20. JeffJL

    Jennifer. It gives me a nice warm feeling to put the biggest number next to those I dislike the most. No it is not necessary in the rushed through new laws but it is fun.

  21. keerti

    Wayne, there is good reason why the untalented scum only mention union bashing. That’s all they’re good at!

  22. margcal

    Yes, Jennifer, what JeffJL said.
    If there were 120 senate candidates I would put No. 1 on the Lib ticket as my No. 120.
    Rationally, I know it means nothing to them, but it ‘feels’ good.

  23. king1394

    No wage earner should vote Liberal/National; no woman should vote for them; no one from the gay community should vote for them; no one who cares about the environment and climate change should vote for them … who does that leave?

  24. Miriam English

    I was just idly reading the IPA’s wishlist and I noticed this:

    88 Restore fundamental legal rights to all existing commonwealth legislation such as the right to silence and the presumption of innocence

    I guess what they really mean is that this right only belongs to crooked businessmen, right-wing shock-jocks, or conservative politicians because the ABCC will mean construction workers certainly won’t have any right to silence and have been presumed guilty in a long-running, relentless witchhunt.

  25. Miriam English

    king1394, unfortunately it leaves all the brainwashed Murdoch-droids. Thankfully his insidious influence is diminishing as his empire teeters toward bankruptcy with his audience ceasing to read, changing channel, or switching off, but his tentacles still reach far into our society.

  26. Terry2

    Isn’t it tragic that those poor people locked away on Nauru and Manus Islands have now fallen of the table and out of the public consciousness and now that we are in election mode we cannot expect any compassion from Canberra.

  27. nurses1968

    Labor needs to come out with a clear policy on the Asylum Seeker issue
    We need to work with the UN to set up processing centres in Indonesia and Malaysia and then, when we know who needs protection and who doesn’t, we take those in need and send the others home

  28. Kaye Lee

    I rang a few politicians’ offices today asking what was the source for their claim that labour productivity in the construction industry increased by 20% during the years of operation of the ABCC. Unlike when I have done this previously, they all answered with the same line….put your request in writing.

    I decided to look it up myself and, according to the ABS (5260.0.55.002 Estimates of Industry Multifactor Productivity, Australia), labour productivity in the construction industry had by far its greatest single year increase in 2011-12 as the ABCC (est. in 2005) was abolished, and it peaked in 2012-13, before decreasing in 2013-14 and then again in 2014-15.

    It isn’t the ABCC that helps productivity in the construction industry. It increased every year from 2007 to 2013, much faster after the ABCC stopped only hassling the CFMEU and started looking at employers in 2010 and after it was abolished in 2012, and has gone backwards in the last two years. Can anyone see the pattern?

    Labour productivity is much higher when unions and management work together – this is seen as a sin by conservative governments.

  29. jim

    Hey great post, Be sure to bring your own Biro to voting day can’t trust no one these days LNP BOOTED OUT.

  30. bossa

    LNP are constantly fighting a class war that has nothing to do with governance for the benefit of the Australian People and Turnbull has proven to be just as right wing as the rest of them when protecting his pecuniary interests is the concern.

    If the ALP ever wins power again I’ll expect them to prosecute these bastards for the traitors they are. No more playing nice please.

  31. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Asylum seekers, still coming and already rotting in detention on Nauru, Manus and other detention centres, should be processed expeditiously on mainland Australia and not with Transfield now Broadspectrum or Serco as the contracted overseers.

    This is what I want to hear Shorten’s Labor saying, so they get off to a good start in the election campaign, proving that their time in the wilderness has not made them lose their hearts and consciences.

  32. margcal

    We need a Royal Commission into the AFP and all state police services.
    I mean, why haven’t they been raiding building sites, homes, and hideaways and arresting all those thugs and lawless people?
    Merde-och would have been parading them all on the front pages if the police had been doing their job.
    It must be corruption!

  33. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Yes Mobius,

    very telling.

  34. doobasdad

    What a circus. Believe it or not, Labor will again win power and out will go these draconian laws. Then the Liberals will eventually lie their way back in and out comes their bag of nasties again. And so the cycle will continue. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the welfare of the country was at the forefront of their actions instead of constantly bashing up the other side!

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