Legislative Council: Tuesday, August 29, 2023


Construction Industry

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (15:18): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before directing a question to the Minister for Industrial Relations regarding worker entitlement and redundancy schemes.

Leave granted.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: It has been widely reported that the CFMEU are using intimidating tactics to force workers on Adelaide construction sites to join the union. These tactics include threatening builders with loss of future work. There are also growing concerns from the sector over the CFMEU's national expansion plans with Incolink, moving to take over worker entitlements and redundancies here in South Australia.

The CFMEU secretary, John Setka, has been quoted in the media that SA builders who raise concerns are 'whingeing' and describing Incolink as, and I quote, 'easily the best scheme in Australia', with CEO, Erik Locke, describing the current BIRST fund as 'substandard'. My questions to the minister are:

1. Considering the significant contribution the building and construction industry makes to the state, does he believe that the alleged tactics from the CFMEU are warranted, and, if not, what is he doing to stamp out this behaviour?

2. Does the minister share the view of Mr Setka that SA builders are whingers?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (15:20): I thank the honourable member for her question. I note statements that have been made both by the Leader of the Opposition, David Speirs, and, I think, the shadow treasurer, Matt Cowdrey, in relation to concerns they have on worksites. I would encourage anyone, and if the Hon. Michelle Lensink has any evidence, to pass it on to the authorities.

I think it would be a very, very disappointing state of affairs if any member of the opposition had actual evidence and they didn't pass it on to the authorities but instead chose to use it for political purposes. If anyone actually has that evidence that the honourable member referred to there being reports of, particularly if it's people like the Leader of the Opposition, I would very strongly encourage them to pass it on to the proper authorities: the police or SafeWork South Australia or the federal regulator. If people don't do that then it is pretty difficult to complain about something that you are not prepared to act on yourself.

Having said that, in relation to private sector employees in South Australia, since the 2009 commonwealth Fair Work Act, the industrial relations system, save for work health and safety, has been governed by the commonwealth. That has been the case for nearly a decade and a half in Australia. Industrial agreements in the private sector are wholly governed by commonwealth law.

So in relation to any reports or any evidence that people have of untoward behaviour, given we have had such a harmonious industrial relations environment for many, many years in South Australia, would those people who say they have evidence of it please pass it on so it can be properly investigated.