Shareholders in Leighton and Lend Lease should shiver at the appointment of Nigel Hadgkiss to help Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s drive to rid of Australia of the cartel style agreements between big builders and big unions.
No one in Australia has a better understanding of how these agreements work to allow unions to approve sub contractors – so reducing commercial building competition, plus allowing unions to control building sites and lift costs. Moreover Hadgkiss also knows how to stop them.
Hadgkiss worked in the old Australian Building and Construction Commission before it was emasculated by the Gillard and Rudd governments. Abbott plans to bring back the ABCC with strong powers.
The only other person in Australia who could rival Hadgkiss’ knowledge of the cartel style agreements is the former head of the ABCC, John Lloyd, who will serve as the new body’s chairman. They will be a formidable combination.
Hadgkiss is currently working with the Victorian body trying to block the cartel style agreements in that state. He has been frustrated by a Federal Court decision to overturn the thrust of the Victorian legislation on the basis of anti-discrimination provisions in the federal Fair Work Act.
That decision is subject to appeal but the Commonwealth can overcome the court decision with a change in the Fair Work regulations. It can also do so by starving Victoria of cash if it allows a consortium to construct the East West Link that includes a company engaged cartel style agreements with the big building unions.
Subject to the Western Australia Senate recount the legislation required to restore the ABCC will pass the Senate after July 1.
And infrastructure costs will fall sharply once the cartel style agreements are stopped.