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Master builders pressure Senate crossbench over construction commission

Canberra's Master Builders Association has joined a national campaign seeking to pressure Senate crossbenchers to back the reinstatement of the Howard-government era Australian Building and Construction Commission.

A new national advertising campaign launched on Monday will target Senators Jacqui Lambie, Nick Xenophon, Bob Day, David Leyonhjelm, Glenn Lazarus, Ricky Muir and John Madigan, with an open letter urging them to vote for the commission's reinstatement in the community's best interest. 

Established by the Howard government after the Cole Royal Commission into the construction industry in 2003, the commission was abolished by the Gillard government in May 2012 and replaced with the Fair Work Building and Construction Inspectorate later that year.

Newly-appointed Master Builders ACT executive director Kirk Coningham said the commission improved industrial outcomes. 

"There is no place for bullying and intimidation in ACT schools or workplaces and there's certainly no place for such behaviour on our building sites," he said.

"It impacts on the entire community by forcing up costs and has a terrible toll on the individuals, businesses and teams being bullied and abused. The only people who need be concerned about the watchdog are those who are doing the wrong thing."


Advertisements for the campaign will run in national and metropolitan newspapers in every state and territory on Monday, including the Canberra Times

Prime Minister Tony Abbott pledged to reinstate the commission's powers when in opposition.  

He has lobbied for its reinstatement with members of the Senate crossbench, including Senator Muir, of the Motoring Enthusiasts Party, at a 2014 meeting. The policy comes as the government's Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption prepares for more public hearings after April. 

Master Builders president Trevor Evans, a co-signer of the advertisements, told members he was urging crossbench senators to vote for the commission's reinstatement. 

"Senators have a higher duty to the nation and should vote for stronger laws to support lawful behaviour on building sites," Mr Evans wrote. 

"Master Builders is asking the crossbench senators to have the courage of their convictions and vote in the best interests of their communities."

The Senate crossbenchers will also come under renewed pressure to pass the Abbott government's higher education reforms this week.