Today’s release of the Cole Royal Commission report into the building industry will be used as a political tool by the Howard Government, the ACTU has warned.

ACTU Secretary Greg Combet said unions expect the Federal Government to use the Royal Commission findings to justify the introduction of new anti-worker legislation.

‘The Cole Royal Commission was politically motivated in its establishment and biased in its conduct. The government will try to use its flawed conclusions to weaken the rights of employees and their unions across many industries.’

Mr Combet said the $60 million cost of the Cole inquiry made it the most expensive union-bashing exercise in Australian history, costing taxpayers twice as much as the HIH Royal Commission into Australia’s largest corporate collapse.

“Instead of properly investigating issues such as multi-million dollar tax evasion, the loss of employee entitlements and safety on building sites, the Royal Commission spent 90% of its hearing time on anti-union allegations.”

Mr Combet said numerous international studies show that Australia’s construction industry is one of the most competitive and cost-effective in the world, with labour productivity levels higher than in the USA, Germany, Japan or Sweden.

‘The Howard Government has wasted $60 million attacking one of Australia’s most productive industries. Unions are calling for co-operation, not confrontation, to keep this industry on track.’

A meeting of national unions at the ACTU executive in Melbourne today will express their support for unions targeted by the Howard Government’s inquiry.

Mr Combet and Construction Union National Secretary John Sutton will hold a news conference to respond to the Royal Commission Report at 1.30pm in Melbourne:

WHAT: News conference – Union response to Cole Commission report
WHEN: 1.30pm AEDT Wednesday March 26
WHERE: Level 4, ACTU, 393 Swanston St Melbourne 3000.
CONTACT: Jeremy Vermeesch 0408 513 849