Unfair contract laws
In March we praised the Morrison government for moving to ‘beef up’ the unfair contract laws for small business people. Albanese’s Labor also supports this, which is great. Unfortunately, the Bill did not pass through Parliament before the election was called.
Integrity Commission – ATO
Labor has made a big noise about Morrison failing to establish a Federal Integrity (anti-corruption) Commission. Here’s our assessment of the issues and politics of this. Morrison has a model, but Labor wants one based on the NSW Commission. The NSW Commission is, however, accused of being a kangaroo court that the High Court found breached the law. The Morrison model would, for the first time, make the ATO accountable to an external body. That’s a policy we strongly support.
Last week Morrison announced he would move on some industrial relations reform. Labor attacked and Morrison quickly reversed his stance. Here’s our assessment of the politics around this issue. Essentially, we say that the ‘big end of town’ wants changes to suit themselves. But we reckon that the ‘big end of towners’ are incompetent in managing their workplace relations.
Construction Industry Watchdog
If there’s one Labor commitment that stands out, it’s that an Albanese Labor government will close down the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC). We see this as highly negative for self-employed people in the construction sector. We strongly oppose this Labor policy.
Here’s our longer assessment, but in summary:
- The ABCC has brought some discipline to the mafia-like behaviour of construction unions. Over the last two years the ABCC has had the courts impose fines totalling some $5.7 million for illegal (thuggish) behaviour.
- What’s extremely important is that the ABCC operates a Security of Payments system in the construction sector. It’s a vital service. All construction firms within the ABCC’s jurisdiction are required to pay their subcontractors within payment terms. If they are late, they must report this to the ABCC. Subcontractors can lodge complaints with the ABCC over late payment.
If contractors do not pay on time, they risk sanctions that ultimately include being banned from all Commonwealth-funded work. Over around the last 5 years the ABCC has recovered some $10.7 million in outstanding payments owed to subcontractors. Some major contractors have been disciplined.
An external review of the ABCC reports a “reduction in the number of delayed payments” and “greater efforts being made to pay subcontractors on time.” This is critically important.
There’s no doubt that should Anthony Albanese’s Labor win the election, one of its highest priorities will be the elimination of the ABCC. The outcome would be renewed, unrestrained thuggery on construction sites. Further, small business tradie subcontractors would again carry the risk of not being paid. A bad outcome for all except for the thugs.
(Disclosure: Ken Phillips is a member of the ABCC Security of Payments Working Group along with representatives from the ACTU and Building Industry Associations.)
We’ll produce more election assessments on issues for self-employed people over the coming weeks.