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Greens to amend McCarthyite Building & Construction Commission bill

Greens MP and employment and workplace relations spokesperson Adam Bandt says he will move to amend controversial building and construction commission laws.

The Building and Construction Industry Improvement Amendment (Transition to Fair Work) Bill 2011 is due to be debated in the Parliament today and the government has said it wants it to pass the House of Representatives this week.

"In a democracy, people in the building industry shouldn't have fewer rights than accused criminals," Mr Bandt said.

"People shouldn't fear being hauled into secret inquisitions and forced to 'name names' under threat of imprisonment. That's McCarthyism."

"The Australian Greens want the Australian Building & Construction Commission abolished and the government wants to keep it. If it has to stay, I will be seeking significant changes to deal with sham contracting, protecting vulnerable workers, removing coercive powers and protecting privacy."

"I will also move amendments to allow the commission to intervene in matters before Fair Work Australia and the courts only where the tribunal allows."

Negotiations with the government and the cross-bench on the amendments are continuing.

The amendments include:

1. Removal of coercive powers
2. Expanded definition of sham contracting - prevent single employees becoming a Pty Ltd company and being contracted as a sub-contractor.
3. Require the Building Commissioner to look after vulnerable workers, such as underpaid overseas workers, and to conduct prosecutions for sham contracting
4. Extending the Act to cover the housing sector, where sham contracting is rife
5. Remove the automatic right of the Building & Construction Commissioner to intervene in legal proceedings: they will need the leave of the tribunal or court
6. Greater privacy protection - restrict what information can be disclosed by the Building Commissioner
7. Improved oversight and accountability - increased powers for the Advisory Board to direct the operations and action of the ABCC


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