The Federal government is planning on a royal commission into the construction industry following widespread rumours and allegations of corruption in the building industry particularly involving the main building union, The CFMEU. Now the Australian Council of Trade Unions has reacted to the news with condemnation.
ACTU has accused the Federal Government of going on a “political witch hunt” with the royal commission despite media reports that union officials had formed corrupt relationships with organised crime bosses and many were receiving bribes for lucrative construction contracts.
The Prime Minister was the first to argue for the re-instatement of the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) which were in control of the industry during the Howard era.
This excerpt from a post on Abc.net.au explains:
“There is no place in the union movement at all for individuals who are behaving in a corrupt manner,” she said.
“We have made that very clear in the past and it’s still very much our position.”
But Ms Kearney says a royal commission is unnecessary.
“Just because we have one or two bad apples that have been dealt with… it does not mean that the entire union movement needs to be tarnished with this brush,” she said.
“It’s a nonsense to say that this would mean that we would need the ABCC.
“Our legal system is very well equipped to deal with any sort of fraudulent behaviour.”
Abbott has indicated that a broad based inquiry into the corruption in the industry is necessary. A previous Royal Commission, held in 2003 found that there was “widespread use of inappropriate payments in the industry”. The inquiry suggested major structural reform within the industry was necessary.
Before the recent election last year, Mr Abbott made promises regarding the investigation into union slush funds and has now indicated that the investigations could be made more in-depth with the royal commission into union corruption. Many have supported this move, including one man quoted by a post on Abc.net.au, a previous royal commission chair,
Roger Gyles QC, who chaired a New South Wales royal commission into the building industry in the early 1990s, supports the move.
He says crime commissions at state and federal levels, as well as ASIC and the police, have all failed to effectively target the problem.
“No doubt the police have many matters on their plate and they’ve got to prioritise but experience over many years says that if anything seems to smack of political or industrial implications then it seems to go to the bottom of the pile, not the top,” he told RN Breakfast.
The union and its representative, Ms Kearney did not agree with the government’s crackdown on the industry and said that there were more important issues to consider rather than a royal commission.