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 Senate talks about construction watchdog

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PostSubject: Senate talks about construction watchdog   Tue 11 Aug 2015, 9:48 am

A CROSSBENCH senator is willing to support government efforts to restore the construction industry watchdog because of revelations at the royal commission into trade union corruption.

BUT Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm will only back the move if there is a time limit on the Australian Building and Construction Commission's coercive powers, about which he has reservations.
"What we've heard at the royal commission is the reason I'm prepared to support this," he told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday. The senator has been in discussions with Employment Minister Eric Abetz ahead of a likely Senate vote next week.
Crossbench colleague Nick Xenophon is also in talks with the government, having already supported a move to extend the powers of the Fair Work Building Commission that would allow it to insist on witnesses giving evidence.
Labor and the Greens were "quite foolish" to oppose that, he says.
"It's an essential tool to deal with lawlessness on building sites."
The government needs the backing of six of the eight crossbenchers to have its legislation clear parliament.
"I think the case has been overwhelmingly made out that there does need to be a special cop on the beat," Senator Abetz told the Australian Financial Review on Tuesday, in the wake of recent allegations at the royal commission.
Labor is staunchly opposed to restoration of the commission which it abolished in 2012.
Opposition frontbencher Doug Cameron, a senior union official before he entered parliament, says Labor backs continuation of the Fair Work Building Commission but not an additional entity.
He argued there were sufficient check and balances in the system including the use of state and federal police.
"The ABCC bill is part of their ideological attack on workers in this country," Senator Cameron said of the coalition government.
The commission had a history of bias and incompetence, he said.
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