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September 26, 2016

Recent reports of improper behaviour and potential breaches of civil rights by the Director of Fair Work Building and Construction (FWBC) calls into question the Government’s push for the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC), which has even greater coercive powers.

The Commonwealth Ombudsman has questioned the behaviour of Liberal appointed Director of the FWBC Nigel Hadgkiss, saying he breached the confidentiality of people he was interviewing and used questionable interviewing techniques.              

This is in addition to previous claims by the Federal Court and the Fair Work Commission that Mr Hadgkiss was “unjustifiably vexatious” in his attack on the union movement and prone to “unsubstantiated hyperbole”.

Cause for concern is that the ABCC would have even fewer protections against improper behaviour and undemocratic processes. A Liberal appointed Director of the ABCC, someone like Mr Hadgkiss, would wield even more power.

If re-established, the ABCC will have coercive powers to compel workers to secret interviews, be denied legal representation and threatened with imprisonment if the person exercises their democratic right to not participate.

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 ABCC.

The Liberal Government’s attempt to return the ABCC is simply part of their anti-worker, anti-union ideological agenda.