Jul 11, 2016

Daniel Andrews must condemn the CFMEU | afr.com

Labor's federal leader Bill Shorten seems to have found his voice over employer payments to the Australian Workers' Union under his leadership, and, in larger sums, under his successors.
But when will Victoria's Labor Premier Daniel Andrews find his voice over the mayhem inflicted on the Victorian construction industry by the rogue Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union?
The CFMEU's flagrant workplace abuses were laid bare at the weekend when the union agreed to pay $3.55 million to settle a longrunning Victorian court battle with developer Grocon over illegal blockades of the Myer Emporium project in 2012.
Another dispute with building products group Boral remains to be finalised. In a separate case, the Queensland branch of the union and five officials were ordered to pay $545,000 in fines for unlawful coercion and hooliganism at a Brisbane Grocon site.
But Victoria is the epicentre of CFMEU militancy now that the resources construction boom is waning in the west, and it is Victorian taxpayers who will foot the bill if the Andrews' government cannot manage its $22 billion transport building program with the efficiency that dealing with Shorten's AWU allowed the former Brumby Labor government to achieve on the Eastlink road project.
Eastlink was delivered on budget and five months ahead of schedule, in sharp contrast to the contemporaneous desalination project, where the usual suspects - the CFMEU and the Electrical Trades Union - ruled the roost and a financial train-wreck ensued.
Make no mistake - if  the Andrews government's transport building program falls victim to that kind of sandbagging, the next slate of projects will be another train-wreck and Victorian taxpayers will be big losers.
But Andrews - whose election campaign benefited from large CFMEU donations - has been strangely silent about the union's illegal activities in his home state.
One of his government's first actions was to abolish the Victorian Building Code which the former coalition government brought in to try and keep the rogue union on some sort of a leash. That is not the sort of leadership Victoria requires.
The premier needs to condemn unequivocally the habitual misconduct of the CFMEU in Victoria and explain to taxpayers how he plans to defend their interests against the union and its supporters when he comes to spend $22 billion of their money.
A chat to the current AWU leadership might be a good place to start.
As for Shorten, if he can continue speaking plainly and forcefully about his leadership of the AWU - as he started to do at the weekend - and get through the trade union royal commission hearings, the saga of AWU developer payments could in an odd way be the best thing that's happened to his leadership.
It seemed to snap him out of his robotic, straining-for-soundbites, interview style and back into something approximating straight-talk.
Daniel Andrews needs to experience the same kind of conversion. 

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