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Bringing back building ‘watchdog’ helps a political agenda, but not concerns about union corruption

David Peetz writes in The Conversation (22.2.16) about the federal government’s seeming haste to reinstate the Howard-era Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC). The re-formed ABCC was a recommedation of the Heydon Royal Commission into trade unions, and its possible rejection in the Senate could provide Prime Minister Turnbull with a double dissolution trigger.

‘Battle lines are being drawn over the proposed re-establishment of the building industry “watchdog” the Australian Building and Construction Commission (the ABCC). It is shaping up as a possible trigger for a double dissolution election.

‘Legislation introduced to the Senate to bring back the controversial body has already been rejected once. If it is rejected in the same form again, when parliament sits next month, it would provide a second trigger for both houses of parliament to be dissolved. The deadline for a double dissolution is May 11.

‘The return of the ABCC was the government’s immediate response to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption (commonly referred to as ‘TURC’), headed by Dyson Heydon.

‘On Wednesday, addressing the National Press Club, Treasurer Scott Morrison claimed this would be ‘an important economic reform’ and the ABCC’s earlier abolition had been ‘a productivity killer and job destroyer’.

‘Recently, Workplace Relations Minister Michaelia Cash has linked the ABCC legislation to the TURC report.

‘While there is an obvious political agenda to link TURC and the ABCC, the policy link is not so clear.’

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