Watchdog wielding rare power over unions
THE combative state of construction in Queensland has seen the industry watchdog drag more people in for compulsory questioning under rarely used powers than any other state.
The number of industry players brought before the examinations has reached its highest point in at least six years, and is more than double the number in any other state.
There were seven construction industry people brought before the powerful examination procedures to face compulsory question or hand over documents in Queensland in 2017-18.
This compares to just two in Victoria and three in Western Australia, while the power was not used in any other state.
An Australian Building and Construction Commission spokesman said the "significant industrial activity" in Queensland was the reason it had to deploy the powers as it had.
It can use it to call for questioning union officials, employees, government representatives and construction company management.
In Queensland four management representatives and three employees were brought in for examination in 2017-18.
The seven examinations related to three investigations, but an ABCC spokesman said they were ongoing so he could not provide further comment.
Industrial Relations Minister Kelly O'Dwyer said there was a concerning rise of unlawful industrial action in Queensland.
"Where there's smoke there's fire and the rise in ABCC's activity in the State is demonstrative of a concerning uptick in militant union action across Queensland's vital building and construction sector," she said.
"On Tuesday, we saw the Queensland boss of the CFMMEU bragging that under a Bill Shorten led government, they'll 'get everything'."
CFMMEU boss Michael Ravbar made the comments at an Australian Council of Trade Unions "Change the Rules" rally in Brisbane.
In one case when the powers were used former CFMEU organiser Paul Cradden was given indemnity in return for information used in a 2012 incident.
With the evidence, a court in August this year found the CFMEU and its boss Michael Ravbar were contravened the Fair Work Act by blocking a crane at the Brisbane Port Connect site.
Using the powers, the ABCC can require a person to give information, produce documents or attend a meeting with the Commissioner to answer questions related to the investigation.
There are a range of safeguards in place, including that the ABCC Commissioner must have an application approved by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal first.