Police have been rebuked by a senior Abbott government minister who has accused them of failing to enforce the law in industrial disputes or to investigate corruption, while also attacking the Victorian Supreme Court for delays in penalising the CFMEU for its 2012 blockade of Grocon.
Employment Minister Eric Abetz said police had not done enough to enforce the law in the building industry and flagged concern over a ''lack of will'' from senior police.
''In light of the many revelations of unlawful conduct over the past month, I have taken a close interest in the responses of the various bodies responsible for upholding the range of laws that apply to the building industry,'' he said.
''In particular, I have noted the absence of police involvement in situations that one might ordinarily think would attract their interest.
''Police leadership have claimed it is due to factors such as a lack of resources or lack of evidence. Whatever the explanation is, I hope it is not another factor on their part, which is equally crucial - a lack of will,'' he said.
''I dare say that if police command in Flinders Street were to suddenly find its driveways blocked, its doors picketed and staff on site threatened and abused, then those matters would be very quickly and effectively dealt with … the problem is that every other Victorian workplace should be treated the same way.''
Police have been criticised for being slow to act or failing to intervene in a number of industrial disputes in Victoria in recent years.
Senator Abetz, the leader of the government in the Senate, also attacked delays in the case against the CFMEU. He said the union's behaviour was ''contemptible'' as it deliberately ignored Supreme Court orders to end the blockade.
Senator Abetz' criticism of police came as former Labor minister and ACTU president Martin Ferguson called on the ALP to back the restoration of the construction watchdog and the Coalition's ''modest'' industrial relations changes. Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he had always held Mr Ferguson in high regard as ''one of the very serious people for the Labor Party in the Parliament''.
''I think he's made a very important and valuable contribution to the debate but what we will be doing is implementing the policies that we took to the election,'' he said.
But Mr Ferguson's brother, Labor MP Laurie Ferguson, said he had ''diametrically opposed views'' to his brother. ''I totally oppose resuscitating a specific organisation to deal with the CFMEU and I have a grave doubts about calls for wage repression in Australia,'' he said.