Actu Hypocritical On Building Safety 1

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30th September 2010, 04:50pm - Views: 1001

Industry Construction Master Builders Australia Ltd 1 image

Industry Construction Master Builders Australia Ltd 2 image

Media Release 

30 September 2010


Statement by Wilhelm Harnisch, Chief Executive Officer

The recent call by the ACTU for the Australian Building and Construction Commission

(ABCC) to give priority to safety misrepresents the main role of the ABCC. It is

a position

taken by the unions to deflect the real issue of unlawful behaviour which they cannot defend,

according to Master Builders Australia, the peak body for the building and construction


Master Builders’ CEO Wilhelm Harnisch said “A recent successful prosecution by the ABCC

illustrates our point. The conduct of protesters at the Patricia Baleen Gas Plant upgrade site

near Orbost, Victoria included interference with gate locks, placing logs over the entrance to

the site, slashing tyres, and throwing stones at employees entering the site. 

“Throwing stones at employees and slashing tyres is thuggery and is unacceptable by any

standard. It has nothing to do to with advancing safety outcomes on building sites. This case

shows that the ABCC’s work is vital to stop a return to a culture of fear,

coercion and

intimidation within the commercial building sector industry. 

“There is no evidence to link the enforcement of the rule of law in the industry with a

decrease in safety;

it’s illogical,” Mr Harnisch said, ““Breaking the law doesn’t help safety.

Master Builders agrees with the ACTU that injuries and fatalities in the construction industry

need to be reduced. The significant human and economic cost associated with fatalities

means that this area needs to be given the highest order priority. 

The fact that there were 17 notified fatalities from July 2009 to May 2010 shows that much

more needs to be done. But making the ABCC a scapegoat doesn’t help and is hypocritical,”

Mr Harnisch said.

Nevertheless, there are improvements in the industry’s


performance. The most reliable data shows a fall in the incidence rate for serious claims and

compensated fatalities of 22 percent and 45 percent respectively over a five year period.

“These reductions are encouraging but Master Builders is far from complacent about the

industry’s safety performance. Injury and fatalities need to be reduced further.” 

Mr Harnisch said “It is the Federal Safety Commissioner, not the ABCC, who has been

charged by the federal Government to work with industry to improve safety. 

“Master Builders stands by its

calls for all stakeholders,

including the unions,

to work

cooperatively to understand and find solutions to the complex reasons that lead to fatalities

and injuries

and to jointly call on Government to ensure that the FSC scheme is properly

structured and fully resourced.” 


Wilhelm Harnisch, CEO, 0402 039 039

Richard Calver, National Director Industrial Relations: 0422 866 766

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