Police taskforce looks at 15 building projects

A SPECIAL WA Police Service taskforce set up to investigate allegations of criminal behaviour in the building and construction industry is in the process of investigating 15 matters from the Royal Commission into the Building and Construction Industry.

Those matters have been referred to the Building Industry Taskforce by the Royal Commission and include a complaint made by local builder Jerry Hanssen in relation to the Bluewater project.

The Bluewater project in South Perth was one of several hit by industrial action soon after the election of the Gallop Government.

Mr Hanssen, a director of Hanssen Pty Ltd, which was building Bluewater, said he had made a complaint to police about  union action at the Bluewater site.

A police spokesman confirmed the squad was investigating 15 matters from the Royal Commission and that Bluewater was one of them.

“We’ve received one complaint in regard to Bluewater,” he said.

“They [the taskforce] are looking at it now.”

Meanwhile, there are industry calls for a building industry inspectorate with stronger powers.

The Federal Interim Building Task Force and the WA Government’s Building Industry and Special Projects Inspectorate are only allowed to investigate industrial matters.

Federal Industrial Relations Minister Kevin Andrews told the industry the Federal Interim Building Task Force would be made permanent.

The Government’s legislation that allowed for the creation of the Australian Building and Construction Commission, a body with criminal as well as industrial relations powers, still has to clear the senate.

The Senate Employment and Workplace Relations References Committee held hearings regarding the legislation on March 16 and 17 in Perth.

Master Builders Association executive director Michael Mc-Lean said the Federal Government needed to press on with its industrial relations agenda for the building and construction industry.

He said the problems confronting commercial builders identified by the Royal Commission included: a disregard for the rule of law in some segments of the commercial sector; ineffective deterrents in dealing with unlawful and inappropriate behaviour in an expeditious manner; breaches of freedom of association laws; a non-negotiable approach to pattern enterprise bargaining agreements that would be unsustainable for most employers; and a culture of fear stopping builders from standing up to the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union and bringing cases against the union.

“We believe a specialist government agency, armed with appropriate powers and sufficient resources and staffed by competent personnel to tackle these issues, is needed,” Mr McLean said.



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