According to current opinion polls Bill Shorten is set to be the next Australian Prime Minister and Daniel Andrews is likely to be the next Victorian Premier. Both have seen the new building codes of conduct introduced by former Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu and Prime Minister Tony Abbott as politically motivated attacks on one of their main funding sources: the building unions.
And it is possible that the original Baillieu and Abbott motivations may have had a strong element of union attack. I don’t think either Ted Baillieu or Tony Abbott fully appreciated that while there were bad practices from unions, there were equally bad practices from the management of builders and subcontractors.
Both the unions and the builders were in a cartel-style agreement. It started as simply a way to manage militant unions. But it developed into outrageous bans on using Boral concrete and builders funding the blocking of Melbourne streets to force a rival to join the cartel. And not far away from all this is organised crime.
There is no doubt that the ALP gained considerable funds from these cartels but the cartels meant that we had between 15 and 30 per cent less money available for public services.
Both Bill Shorten and Daniel Andrews are decent people who want better schools, hospitals, rail lines, roads etc. I implore them to leave the code of conduct alone if they gain office because without it we will revert to the old cartel days.
All the major builders have managers that have to be retrained or leave the industry because all they know about building management is operating in a cartel with the unions. In these cartels the unions control who are the subcontractors and receive payments from them -- the price of being chosen. In theory, the code of conduct should not be necessary and hopefully when managers are trained to manage properly it will be redundant. But right now it’s the only way to execute change and lower building costs for the community.
It’s not easy for the ALP to turn off the money tap. The cartels have delivered vast funds for the building unions and the ALP sees that money as a future honey pot. But any examination of how the money was generated will cause both Bill Shorten and Daniel Andrews to think twice about accepting it.
Obviously, some money came legitimately from union subscriptions. But a vast amount was gained because companies paid ‘fees’ as part of the membership of a cartel-style agreement.
Those fees that boosted union funds also delivered big profits at a cost to the very community that Bill Shorten and Daniel Andrews seek to represent. No one blames Bill Shorten and Daniel Andrews for previous comments but now that the facts are known, it’s time to do the right thing by the community.