‘Secret deal’ gives unions ‘free rein’ on worksites
Union officials will be harder to kick off Queensland worksites under new laws quietly introduced by the State Labor Government.
The laws - passed in State Parliament yesterday - will make it clear the state's trespass laws won't be able to stop a union official with a workplace health and safety permit from entering a site and remaining there.
It has led to Opposition claims Labor has done a secret deal to give the CFMEU free rein on worksites across Queensland, to smooth out union anger over a Cross River Rail deal.
Master Builders say the changes will make it easier for unions to stay on site if they behave poorly, and complained there was no consultation on the laws.
But the CFMEU has insisted that the move will not make it easier or harder for union officials trying to represent members.
The changes come after a District Court judge in April overturned a decision that saw trespass charges against four CFMEU officials dismissed.
The officials had refused to leave a worksite and were arrested, later arguing their WHS permits allowed them to stay on site.
But the appeal judge noted a very clear legislative intent would be required to give entry permit holders a right to remain at a workplace, and ordered that the case be reheard.
Police Minister Mark Ryan said the new laws were not in response to the ruling.
"It is simply a clarifying amendment," he said.
"The clarification is simply a response to a gap that was identified in existing laws."
Opposition industrial relations spokesman Jarrod Bleijie claimed the move, which comes after the CFMEU waged a campaign against senior minister Kate Jones over Cross River Rail jobs, would give the union free rein on worksites.
"Labor's sneaky move will send a shudder through the construction industry and will be another hammer blow to jobs," he said.
A CFMEU spokesman said the union had not asked for or lobbied for the law change, and insisted it would not make life any easier.
"It's a nonsense from a flailing Opposition desperately trying to seek some relevance," he said.
Master Builders Queensland's Emma Kirkby said it was understood a person exercising a right of entry in accordance with existing laws was already protected from trespass.
"I think it will make it easier for them (unions) to remain on if they behave poorly," she said.
Originally published as 'Secret deal' gives unions 'free rein' on worksites