||Issue No. 200||24 October 2003|
The Hard Yards
Interview: No Ifs, No Butts
Unions: National Focus
Industrial: Fools Gold
Bad Boss: Bones of Contention
History: The Gong Show
Politics: The Hawke Legacy
International: Sick Nation
Economics: Closed Minds
Review: Mixing Pop and Politics
Poetry: One Size Fits All
The Locker Room
Advance Australia Where?
God Save Us All
US Seeking Aussie Info
Call The Doctor
Bring Back Gough
Bring Back Social Democracy
Look East, Look West
Cole Insider Highlights "Agenda"
Martin Loosemore, professor of construction management at the University of NSW, warned Tony Abbott’s reform package could create more problems for the construction industry than it solved.
Loosemore, contracted by Cole to analyse industry productivity, was disappointed by Federal Government's response to the $60 million commission.
"The narrowness of the reforms is disappointing," Loosemore said. "The fact that they just concentrated on IR when there were a huge number of problems faced by the industry.
"A lot of very useful information was collected but most of it has been ignored. From an outside perspective, you could be forgiven for thinking there was some sort of agenda."
Professors Loosemore and Denny McGeorge told the Commission, in discussion papers, that on international indicators Australian building and construction shaped up well, finishing first or second on most indicators.
However, they argued, it was not as productive as other sectors of the domestic economy.
"We are doing quite well, very well in many ways," Loosemore told Workers Online, "but there is a case for reform and IR is one element of that. What's missing is any leadership on all the other reforms the industry needs."
Loosemore said construction needed to lift its game on training practices, contractual reform, human resource management, procurement practices and the fact that price, rather than quality, drove investment. None of these issues, he said, had been addressed by proposed legislation.
His comments come as legislation introduced by Tony Abbott runs into a storm of controversy.
Abbott's Bill seeks to severely restrict the ability of building workers to take industrial action over safety, wages or conditions. It would introduce massive fines and prison terms for union members who breach its provisions, allow union officials to be barred from the industry, even for technical breaches, and would be policed by a special taxpayer-funded taskforce.
Trade unionists' description of the Cole Commission as a "witch-hunt" have won unlikely endorsement from a leading Perth builder with a history of run-ins with the CFMEU.
Daren Deen, general manager of Perth-based Sizer Builders, echoed union criticisms at an industry seminar in Melbourne.
"I share the union's view that the royal commission was a political witch-hunt," Deen said.
"My view that the royal commission was a political witch-hunt is also shaped by the inflammatory rhetoric pumped out during the hearings and the Government's behaviour afterwards."
Stunned CFMEU WA secretary, Kevin Reynolds, said Deen's comments reflected opinions other builders were only prepared to express in private.
"Deen is no friend of the CFMEU's, so it's interesting that that is his view," Reynolds told the West Australian this week.
Another hurdle for Abbott's contentious legislation is expected to come from a full Senate Inquiry to begin hearings in December. The Inquiry is likely to give voice to dozens of industry players denied a say by the Cole Commission.
Union figures hope the Senate hearings will become an inquiry into an inquiry, testing their views that the Cole Commission was unbalanced and partisan.
Pensioner Gets New House
Meanwhile, a Bendigo pensioner whose home was destroyed by a May tornado, is due to move into a brand new home, courtesy of community support spearheaded by the Victorian branch of the CFMEU.
The Bendigo Advertiser reported this week that Albert Alcock (67) shed a tear at the first sight of the nearly completed home at Eaglehawk.
The paper quoted his daughter, Jenny Borserio, as saying the donation of the house, built by CFMEU members, had come as a "huge surprise".
Her father has been constantly in and out of hospital with a heart condition since his home was destroyed.
CFMEU national vice-president, Albert Littler, said the union would hand over the keys to Alcock at an open day that the community was welcome to attend.
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