Wednesday 30 January 2019
- Minister for Jobs and Industrial Relations
- Minister for Women
Subjects: CFMMEU intimidation towards Queensland work health and safety Inspectors, jobs figures, 2019 Federal Election
In a shocking development it’s clear that in Queensland something is very wrong on construction sites. We have had revelations that Queensland work health and safety inspectors don’t feel safe on certain construction sites because of fears of occupational violence.
We know that this is against a backdrop of the CFMMEU being brought before the courts for alleged intimidation of a Queensland work health and safety inspector in Cairns. In fact, in the militant CFMMEU 78 of their officials are currently before the courts for over potentially 800 contraventions. It isn’t right that work health and safety inspectors don’t feel safe on construction sites here in Queensland. And if they don’t feel safe because they are concerned about occupational violence then what hope is there for small business owners, for those people who are doing construction work as contractors on these sites, workers and apprentices? What hope is there for them to feel safe from threats and intimidation?
The Australian Building and Construction Commission is an important tough cop on the beat. It is critical that we can continue to have a tough cop on the beat. The building industry is the second largest contributor to our GDP and our third largest employer in this country. And yet Bill Shorten and Grace Grace would abolish the Australian Building and Construction Commission that is putting the safety of workers first and instead allow intimidation and thuggery to exist on construction and building sites right across Queensland and right across Australia. There would be no more penalties, there would be no more policing and there would be no more protections for small businesses and the people that work on construction sites.
As a Government we will keep the ABCC. Bill Shorten will put the interests of militant unions first and the interests of workers second. This development that has happened is a very serious one and it is yet another reason why Bill Shorten and the Labor opposition cannot be trusted with the safety of workers right across this country.
The Together Union today has said it is based on the history of incidents not so much CFMMEU members – is that a bit of crafty back pedalling perhaps?
Look it’s pretty unprecedented when you have one union feel the need to join together against other militant unions that have been threatening their workers in the state of Queensland. When they feel that they don’t have the protection from the Minister Grace Grace – when they feel that there is the potential for occupational violence if they are to work on certain construction sites here in Queensland, trying to look after the safety of workers here in Queensland, it’s pretty unprecedented and frankly it is a great insight to what is in store for the rest of Australia if Bill Shorten has his way. If he abolishes the Australian Building and Construction Commission – which he has pledged to do as a demand from the militant CFMMEU – workers will be put last, small businesses will be put last and the interests of union members will be put first.
There is some Federal money of course tied up in some of these projects – is there some scope to get involved to ensure the safety and protection of workers and other contractors?
Of course the Federal Government is always interested in the safety of workers right across Australia. We take our responsibilities very seriously – and the Federal Government of course has committed more than $20 billion in rail and road initiatives across the great state of Queensland, including around $5 billion in the last Budget alone. Those people who are working at those sites need to feel safe and they need to feel protected. And we are giving them that protection through the tough cop on the beat, through the reinstatement of the Australian Building and Construction Commission, which has already brought cases against militant union officials who have intimated workers. And in this case as we know there has been intimidation, potentially, of work health and safety officials at sites here in Queensland. Of course they need to be able to get on and do their job – because their job is about protecting workers and small business owners. Bill Shorten, the Labor Party and Grace Grace need to get out of the way and need to stop their attacks on the tough cop on the beat and put the interests of hard-working Australians first.
Some questions from my colleagues in Canberra. How much of a threat would Julia Banks be if she ran as an independent against Greg Hunt in Flinders?
Well look, I’m not going comment on speculation on speculation. Frankly we are in an environment now where everyone is speculating on absolutely everything. I am absolutely confident that my colleagues understand the needs of their local communities, that they represent and work hard for their local communities and that their local communities who have entrusted them to represent them continue to give them that faith and that trust going forward.
You say speculation but do you know what Julia Banks intends to do?
I have absolutely no idea. What I would say is that I am very confident that my colleagues who work hard for their local communities will continue to retain the trust of their local communities because at the end of the day we are a Government that delivers. We made a promise before the last election of making sure that one million jobs would be created. We are now at the figure of 1.2 million jobs. People recognise that without a job you lack choices and opportunities and we want every Australian to have choices and opportunities and be able to live their very best lives. That is what a Coalition Government delivers. We are there for aspirational Australians. Unfortunately, Bill Shorten and his Labor team aren’t.
Finally, is the Liberal Party concerned about the number of independent liberal women who are taking on sitting members?
We live in a democracy and in a democracy people stand at elections. I have had several candidates stand against me in every election that I have run in. I don’t think it’s really a newsflash to think that people would stand in an election – that is part of the beauty of our Australian democracy. What I am absolutely confident with is that we have hard-working members within our Coalition team who represent their communities incredibly well and I’m sure they will retain the confidence of their local communities to retain those seats and to be a strong voice in our nation’s Parliament. Thank you.