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October 23, 2015

A report in The Australian which the Abbott-Turnbull Government has used as a justification for a return to the draconian Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) has been proved to be totally inaccurate and misleading in Senate Estimates today.

In order to assist the Government to run its ideological argument for reinstatement of the ABCC, the Liberal appointed Director of Fair Work Building and Construction (FWBC) who originally failed to correct multiple inaccuracies in the story, had to do so today.

The inaccurate and now discredited report claimed:

  • There were 1,000 crimes on building sites; and
  • There were 948 breaches of Commonwealth workplace laws.

Despite the Minister’s desperate attempts to cling to the mischaracterisation, Mr Hadgkiss reluctantly conceded these were complaints:

  • They were not ‘crimes’;
  • They were not 948 breaches of civil laws;
  • “It could be a complaint about a drainpipe over someone’s back fence” (Nigel Hadgkiss – Senate Estimates – 22 October 2015)

In fact there were only 36 proceedings brought in 2014/15, of which only 12 were successful

Despite Mr Hadgkiss claiming compulsorily examination powers have become a “critical tool” he was forced to admit no proceedings have been concluded as a result of the use of coercive powers.

The Liberal Government and Mr Hadgkiss have regularly used unproven allegations, stated them as fact, and cited them as justification for a return to the draconian Australian Building and Construction Commission.

The trouble is Mr Hadgkiss is prone to unsubstantiated hyperbole. It is unacceptable and totally improper for an allegedly independent statutory officer to claim that there are “alarming rates of lawlessness” without being able to produce any evidence to support it.