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Employer groups queried

WHILE unions such as the militant Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union, have borne the brunt of accusations regarding misconduct in the Royal Commission into the Building and Construction industry, similar accusations are beginning to be levelled at employer groups.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s name has been mentioned on numerous occasions in the royal commission – both by witnesses and Commissioner Terrence Cole QC.

The chamber has been shown to be a party in many of the disputes investigated by the commission. The Master Builders Association’s name has also been mentioned in the hearings.

Questions have also been asked about why industry groups had proved so ineffective in protecting their members’ interests and did not take more steps to push to change the situation.

MBA executive director Michael Maclean defended his organisation’s role in the building industry.

“I don’t think the MBA has been derelict in any way,” he said.

“The extent of the problems have surprised me.

“There is only so much that we can do in our role.

“The MBA doesn’t believe the industry can self-regulate out of this mess.

“We believe it needs an external third party to improve,” he said.

Mr Maclean said the Labor Government should be blamed for its removal of the Building Industry Task Force last year.

He also accused successive governments for allowing misconduct to occur on its own sites.

“The government could require particular practices to prevail on its building sites. It chose not to,” he said.

CCI industrial relations spokesman Bruce Williams said the chamber was concerned but “not overly concerned” with the way its name had been used in the hearings.

“There’s been a couple of passing mentions of us. I think you find that when people are under pressure they try to pass the buck around,” he said. “When you read what is said in the transcripts, people are just making suggestions and innuendoes.”

He said the chamber was investigating some of the comments that had been made about it.

A final report into Australia’s construction industry and recommendations to improve it is due to be handed down by the commission by year-end.

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