Brandis Wrong On ABCC

In the government’s desperation to get its double-dissolution election trigger ready, Senator Brandis has forgotten the facts.

THE HON BRENDAN O’CONNOR MP

SHADOW MINISTER FOR EMPLOYMENT AND WORKPLACE RELATIONS

SHADOW SPECIAL MINISTER OF STATE

MEMBER FOR GORTON

 

THE HON MARK DREYFUS QC

SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL

SHADOW MINISTER FOR THE ARTS

MEMBER FOR ISAACS

BRANDIS WRONG ON ABCC

In the government’s desperation to get its double-dissolution election trigger ready, Senator Brandis has forgotten the facts.

On ABC Radio this morning, Senator Brandis said it was “not true” that construction workers brought before the government’s proposed Australian Building and Construction Commission would be denied the right to a lawyer of their choice and the right to remain silent.

Senator Brandis is wrong.

Clause 102 of the ABCC bill provides that a person is not excused from giving information, producing a record or document, or answering a question under an examination notice, or as the result of an inspector exercising their relevant powers, on the grounds that to do so might tend to incriminate the person or otherwise expose the person to a penalty or other liability. The same principle applies to records and documents that would otherwise be inadmissible in criminal proceedings against an individual.

 

Furthermore, under the legislation there is no explicit right to a lawyer in all examinations. The right to a lawyer for construction workers brought before the ABCC only applies to specific examinations. If Senator Brandis believes that the ABCC Bill is intended to provide access to lawyers for all compulsory examination procedures, then the legislation should be amended to say so.

 

The Law Council says in its submission to the bill that “the ABC Commissioner and delegates have the implied power to exclude a particular legal practitioner from an examination if they conclude, on reasonable grounds, and in good faith, that the representative either will, or may, prejudice the investigation”.

 

If that wasn’t enough, ABCC inspectors would have the right to raid private premises without a warrant when there’s not even an allegation of criminality. In some circumstances, this would extend even to private homes. Police need a warrant to enter private property, even when they’re investigating drug dealers or terrorists.

 

This is just the latest example of the government’s deliberate misinformation campaign on the ABCC.

 

It should not be surprising that Senator “Metadata” Brandis does not have a full grasp of the facts – he’s demonstrated his willingness to bluff and bluster his way through arguments before.

What might be surprising to Senator Brandis though, had he done his research, is that the ABCC Bill in its current form breaches several of his own favourite rights and freedoms.

According to research completed by the Parliamentary Library, the ABCC Bill breaches eleven of the listed rights and freedoms which Senator Brandis asked the Australian Law Reform Commission to investigate as part of his so-called “Freedoms Inquiry”.

When the ALRC’s report was tabled in March, Senator Brandis said it would be “a valuable contribution to public debate on ensuring limitations to these rights in justified”.

Clearly Senator Brandis is not paying attention to his own report.

The truth is that the government is only concerned with pulling off its sneaky political tactic of an early double-dissolution election with a bit of union-bashing on the side, and is not concerned with the rights and freedoms of everyday construction workers. Senator Brandis should be ashamed.

MONDAY, 18 APRIL 2016

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  • published this page in Portfolio Media 2016-04-18 11:51:57 +1000