Tuesday 04 June, 2024

The Hon. V.A. TARZIA (Hartley) (15:22): I rise today to talk about union militancy. We are really concerned about projects that are being affected by this on the east coast of Australia, and we are very worried that a number of these issues are going to come here across the border to South Australia. Of course, I am talking about the upcoming contract that is going to be awarded regarding the north-south corridor, and of course I am talking about none other than the CFMEU.

Where do I begin? What we have seen in recent times are reports of union delegates doing things like banning non-members from toilet breaks and from having lunch breaks, not being able even to use certain lunch rooms on some sites. This is happening right now on the east coast of Australia, where the CFMEU has an absolute stranglehold on some of these projects—standover tactics, intimidation, saying that they will decide who gets work and who does not get work depending on whether certain companies are doing what they say is the right thing to do by the union movement.

You only have to look at some of the recent articles put out in regard to this. For example, one that was recently published in the Herald Sun says that there are claims West Gate Tunnel workers were dumped for not joining the CFMEU. We know that when you look at worker salary increases, we are seeing entry-level labourers holding stop-and-go signs earning over $206,000 a year, this being 75 per cent higher than what workers get on general building projects and roughly three times more than the median salary in Australia.

In contrast, the average retail worker in Australia gets paid around $70,000. The average registered nurse in this state gets paid between $85,000 and $90,000. The average teacher gets paid $90,000 to $105,000 in this state. But if you are a member of the CFMEU, if you are holding that stop-and-go sign and you do the right thing by the union, as an entry-level labourer you get paid $206,000. Can you believe it?

When it comes to the standover tactics, it is not just increases in traffic management costs, whistleblowers are also revealing how these standover tactics and intimidation are being utilised by the CFMEU in order to strongarm builders into using their recommended suppliers. When I raised this in recent times, of course, I got quite a disparaging reply from those opposite. It was almost two years to the day. I asked a further question to one of the ministers:

…does the minister believe that the successful push for wage rises by the CFMEU affects the final cost estimate of the north-south corridor completion?

I got a response:

I know that the shadow minister is not a student of demarcation and union affiliations and union coverage.

That is certainly the case. The minister continued:

I have some bad news for him. The CFMEU have no coverage on tunnel building; it's the AWU, a different union, bit embarrassing.

Tell that to the workers who are being bullied and intimidated in New South Wales, and tell that to the builders and the workers who are being intimidated and bullied in Victoria as well. Sir, do you know what? It is funny that it is the same kinds of companies that are involved in those construction sites that are actually involved in the sites over here. It is only around the corner, and we have a lot to fight for when it comes to making sure that the taxpayers of South Australia are getting the best deal possible when it comes to this project.

Recently three Federal Court judges have found that more than two decades of financial penalties had not deterred the CFMEU from engaging in unlawful conduct. To quote these judges:

…[the union] simply regards itself as free to disobey the law.

We know that when the north-south corridor was priced originally, it was at a cost of $9.9 billion. We have seen how that has escalated to $15.4 billion. Now, to go from $9.9 billion to then $15.4 billion, wait until the CFMEU get involved in this project. You are going to see an absolute disaster. You are going to see bullying on worksites, you are going to see the price of this thing escalate, you are going to see the opposite of value for money. You are going to see rorts and bullying and thuggery and intimidation, and it is coming right here to South Australia. What is this Premier and this government doing about it? I put to you: nothing.

The Hon. D.G. Pisoni: Cuddling up to it.

The Hon. V.A. TARZIA: Exactly right. If you do not believe me, listen to what one member of the CFMEU said in relation to what they are going to do. They said:

My view is, if it's construction work, it's CFMEU, if there's sheep walking past and they need to shear it, then it's AWU.

That was said about a recent project in Victoria. These are the same companies that The Advertiser recently quoted as being likely to get the South Road project that have got problems with the CFMEU interstate. I have news for this Premier and this government. The problems interstate with the CFMEU are coming here to South Australia, they are coming to the north-south project, and the taxpayers of South Australia are going to be dudded.