Posted on: 10 November 2022
The South Australian Liberal Party will fast-track the introduction of new legislation to protect construction workers following increasing and concerning reports of threating behaviour by the John Setka-led CFMEU.
South Australian builders will today enter worksites without the protection of the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) following its abolishment by the union-backed Federal Labor Government.
This leaves the South Australian construction industry exposed and at risk of unnecessary cost blowouts and huge timeline delays.
During consultation on its legislation – which will be introduced in the next six Parliament sitting days – the Opposition has heard disturbing accounts of tactics used by the CFMEU including:
Leader of the Opposition David Speirs said the Liberal Party has learned of “disgusting” allegations against the CFMEU that have escalated in recent weeks.
“We are hearing despicable stories from the construction industry about tactics being used by CFMEU thugs to intimidate, bully and threaten people on worksites,” he said.
“From what we’ve learned, there appears to be a clear appetite by the CFMEU cronies to dominate every construction site in South Australia so there is a monopoly of power delivered to the hands of John Setka.
“Further to that, there is a huge threat that increased costs could see homegrown businesses crumble to the ground.
“We can’t forget South Australia is different to other jurisdictions, and here small builders or sub-contractors are often owned by mums and dads so soaring costs will just lock them out of the market.
“The CFMEU takeover has also put major projects under threat.
“We warned the state Labor Government about the chaos the CFMEU would cause the industry, but Peter Malinauskas turned his back on SA business to roll out the red carpet for John Setka.”
Shadow Treasurer Matt Cowdrey said the CFMEU has brought “bad behaviour and lawlessness” to South Australia’s construction industry.
“South Australia urgently needs its own industry watchdog and without one SA businesses face huge danger,” Mr Cowdrey said.
“We need to ensure the right protection is in place to support SA businesses from bad behaviour on construction sites.
“That’s why our watchdog will have the power to target those who are using tactics of intimidation, threatening behaviour and forcefully disrupting worksites to gain control.”
Within days of John Setka’s takeover of the SA branch of the CFMEU, vandalism against workers at Master Builders South Australia occurred in August.
Peter Malinauskas linked the incidents to the CFMEU and, in an embarrassing move, was forced to return a $125,000 election donation to Setka’s militant union.
Peter Malinauskas rejected repeated calls from the Opposition and domestic violence advocates to hand the sum to a charity in a defiant move to support domestic violence victims.
In a stunning turn of events, the CFMEU blasted Peter Malinauskas for his “betrayal” stating:
“Deciding to return the donation in Government, having benefited from CFMEU members support to get elected, is the equivalent of calling for reinforcements and then shooting them in the back when the battle is won.”