WORKPLACE Relations Minister Kevin Andrews has told Federal Parliament that the Building Industry Taskforce will become a permanent policing body, a year after the Royal Commission into the building and construction industry concluded and established an interim policing body.
In reference to the Royal Commission, Mr Andrews told parliament: “The building and construction industry is characterised by illegal and improper payments, threats of violence, chronic failure to honour legally binding agreements, contempt for commission and court rulings and has a culture of coercion, harassment and intimidation.”
The Master Builders Association (MBA) welcomed the move to make the taskforce permanent, but director Michael McLean warned that a permanent building industry taskforce without sufficient powers to do its job was simply window dressing.
“What is needed to clean up some sectors of the industry is a taskforce armed with broader powers and a legal system equipped with more realistic penalties to deal with unlawful behavior,” Mr McLean said.
Since its inception, the interim taskforce has received 1,500 complaints, which resulted in almost 400 investigations.
Thirteen cases are currently before the courts, while a further five have been successfully prosecuted.
A union source told WA Business News that: “If the Government cannot give the building industry taskforce more teeth through the senate, it will be a waste of millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money”,
CFMEU WA State secretary Kevin Reynolds said the taskforce was ineffective and that the Federal Government had spent millions of dollars hunting down CFMEU officials with no prosecutions of any note.
He said the Federal Government would not get backing from the Democrats in the senate to support new legislation to give the taskforce more powers.