John Lloyd, the Australian Building and Construction Commissioner, is paid $400,000 a year. Could a public servant ever be worth that much?

One of the many sexy highlights from the Men of the CFMEU calendar.

Yes, when he and his role is worth a lot more than that to the Australian economy in billions of dollars of productivity gains. And yes, when the remuneration represents danger money as the Commissioner and his staff for which is responsible, have been and continue to be subject to intimidation and coercion by Eureka cross wearing thugs across worksites nationwide.

John Lloyd, a very charming but tough man, is even more remarkable as a public servant as he could have opted to keep a long term cushy IR Club job as a commissioner for many years.

Instead, he accepted John Howard’s 2005 invitation to become Commissioner of the industrially lawless. He chose to do the heavy lifting.

Unfortunately Lloyd has announced he will not be reapplying for the role as Commissioner. He has cited that it would be inappropriate for him to endure the selection process, given his auspicious seniority in the Australian Public Service - a Public Service Member recipient, a former Australian Industrial Relations Commissioner and a former Deputy Secretary of the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations and Public.

This is unfortunate for the rest of us.

Gillard’s office has politely responded to Lloyd’s announcement by saying it was appropriate to advertise the post given the generous salary.

The Australian Building and Construction Commission was established after the Cole Royal Commission found rampart intimidation and coercion by trade unionists and collusion with private builders. Victoria and Western Australia were particularly infected by these criminalising workplaces.  In opposition, Gillard and the ALP opposed the establishment of the ABCC.

Under John Lloyd’s leadership, productivity irrefutably increased in Australia’s crucial construction sector.

According to a 2007 Econtech Report, the estimated economic impact of the ABCC included 1.5 per cent more in GDP than it otherwise would be and 1.2 per cent lower inflation than it otherwise would be. 

There was 5.3 per cent boost to labour efficiency in residential construction and a 12.2 per cent increase in non-residential construction relative to the situation in the absence of the ABCC reforms.

That means more roads, bridges, houses and buildings were being built on or close to on time! Why? Because there were less days lost to industrial action and less abuse of OHS procedures for industrial purposes.

To achieve these results, the ABCC powers allowed Lloyd to take on Joe McDonald, WA CFMEU leader and his orchestrated ‘Blue Flu’ campaigns that ground the Perth-Mandurah rail project to a halt in 2005.

Lloyd has complained that Gillard’s office has been freezing him out of consultation and changes to the ABCC’s powers. Currently there is blocked legislation to replace the ABCC with a special inspectorate with the empowering powers of a warm iceberg lettuce leaf.

Lloyd has colourfully warned that proposed changes could turn a “virile stallion” into a “tame gelding”. 

The ACTU and the notorious CFMEU have been arguing the ABCC has unnecessarily coercive powers against building workers and their representatives.  They ignore the bosses who have also been fined and charged for illegal collusion.

Most of all, they disliked Lloyd because he could not be intimidated.

While there are many in Federal Labor’s caucus who might feel they owe the CFMEU for its role in the Your Rights At Work campaign, my own feedback from Labor sources indicates many are privately relieved the brakes are on to water down the only authority that stands between the timely construction of projects and organised extortion. 

The CFMEU scares the Rudd Government just as much as it intimidates the wider public.

Most commented


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    • T.Chong says:

      08:01am | 31/05/10

      Few people who believe in the rights of of collective bargaining etc will ever forget the way the CFMEU crowded and fawned around Howard in Tassie.
      The CFMEU represents what Liberals wnt in a union - a group purely self focussed, with no regard to anyone or anything else.
      They are not representative of the union movement.

    • Macca says:

      12:51pm | 31/05/10

      For once I agree with you, T.Chong

      Many Union Organisers are good honest people who look out for the rights of their members and give bosses the space to do their jobs effectively.

      The CFMEU has none of this and is one of the great criticsms of the Labour Movement

    • Jack Thomas says:

      10:23am | 01/06/10

      Ok then, point to another union who is representative?

      If you are honest for once, you will acknowledge they are just the fundraisers for the ALP.

      How about the three unions (ETU, AWU and AMWU) who protested on the West Gate Bridge in Melbourne, paying bikies $100 a day to stand on the picket line, threaten the John Holland HR Manager and attack his home etc.?

      Scraping a very shallow barrel mate.

      Many Union Organisers are playing the system, extorting money from members and falsely claiming any results.

      The average Union Organiser’s salary is 25-50% greater than the average worker’s, in fact there are hardly any Union Organisers on less than $100,000+ a year.

      Meanwhile the majority of tradies for instance have seen massive financial returns and business growth.

      Unions do not have any relevance any more, they are just a political wing putting out TV ads and scare campaigns.

      That is why union membership has drastically dwindled in the past 10-20 years.

    • Glenn says:

      12:43pm | 09/01/13

      Not really. The AWU or NUW represent what the Libs want in a union; yellow bourgeois unions that don’t strike but kiss bosses arses. But I agree the CFMEU, while better then those more yellow unions, is too yellow and not nearly militant enough to be effective in the defending workers against corporate class parasites. The BLF, despite a tiny number of bullies and right-wing media beat-ups (you’ll find a high percentage of bullies in any corporate board room), is what workers need and what neither Libs or the right-wing neo-liberal ruling class Labor party want. Militancy and the strike must be exercised or a union is just a facade behind which parasites are trying to neuter organised labour. The ALP is shafting workers and the yellow union go along quietly; they haven’t even repealed the majority of Workchoices in effect.

    • BTS says:

      08:16am | 31/05/10

      Have we actual examples of intimidation and coercion, any comment from Mr Lloyd or is this just a general slander?

      Did Mr Lloyd defend from the sanctity of his position and within four walls or was he actually out there in the mix of this ‘intimidation’?

    • Macca says:

      12:54pm | 31/05/10

      I don’t have any major specifics, BTS, but when the Site Manager keeps a Cricket Bat / Golf Club under his desk in case the Union Organiser turns up, there is something seriously wrong.

      I’ve had colleagues been asked by Union Organisers things such as “Do you have kids, mate?” or “I looked up your address in the Yellow Pages”

      Unfortunately, there is a small minority of Union Organisers that have legitimised the Building Code’s Coercive Powers. The Code has made significant inroads ensuring this behaviour does not continue

    • BTS says:

      01:59pm | 31/05/10


      You will no doubt agree there are boofheads everywhere.  I am interested to hear if Mr Lloyd feels genuinely intimidated and victim of coercion, I somehow doubt it.

    • Dave says:

      05:26pm | 31/05/10

      On this subject, general slander is more than enough.  Most people know someone who works, or has worked, in the industry.  Few would be confused about how the CFMEU operate.  In the court of public opinion, they are guilty as charged, and rightly so.

    • BTS says:

      06:49pm | 31/05/10

      Thanks for the insight Dave.

      I wanted to know how a Kangaroo Court works and now I know.

    • Anjuli says:

      10:56am | 31/05/10

      My husband worked in the construction industry for many years as supervisor and the projects manager, during those years he had 2 stress breakdowns which was due to the unions , stopping work on the sites thus making the projects weeks behind with penalties being born by the company not the unions,this ended his working life which he loved. .Because they saw my husband carrying a tube of silicon, they made him give it a laborer ,or the site would be shut down. The reason he did not go to the royal commission, fearing that the unions would target the family.He could have told a lot of stories and I suspect a lot of others could have done the same. Needles to say he hates unions with a passion.

    • TC says:

      03:57pm | 02/06/10

      My 16 year old brother was beaten to a pulp for not wanting to be a union member. Both cheek bones broken from being picked up by several men who were running his head along a fence amongst other things.

      I really dont understand why people dont like the unions

    • Robert Smissen , rural SA says:

      12:44pm | 31/05/10

      The BLF has risen from the ashes, the only thing that scares me more than the idea of Little Kevvy geting back in, is Red Julia taking over.

    • Dale Peterson says:

      02:58pm | 31/05/10

      It’s time to ask what Julia Gillard really believes in. She has acknowledged there is lawlessness and thuggery in the building industry, has acknowledged that the ABCC has done a good job, yet now she has introduced legislation to neuter it. Thank goodness it has been blocked in the Senate.

      Gillard is no different to Rudd - don’t listen to what she says but judge her by her actions. Her actions demonstrate that she is still the same hard-left fellow traveller that she always was.

    • Mayday says:

      04:35pm | 31/05/10

      Excellent article Brendon, farewell and thank you to Mr John Lloyd.
      Something smells fishy when the man who delivers on his word and exemplifies a public servant of standing is treated in such a shabby way!
      He and the Commission are vehemently hated by the unions who seem
      to have been very quiet in regard to comment on the new mining Super Tax.
      Mr Lloyd’s loss is a huge win to the union movement and you have to wonder if the Commissioner wasn’t the trade off for their silence?

    • Daniel says:

      09:40pm | 31/05/10

      The CFMEU stands up for the rights that Unions have created that Australians are now enjoying. I think the media needs to back off the Unions.

    • Steve says:

      10:32pm | 31/05/10

      I thin you misread this Daniel.  They;re not having a go at unions in general, only the CFMEU.  No other industry needs a special body to keep it honest.  As a unionist, I don’t think that the CFMEU has gained me any rights.  Quite the opposite, it has brought unions in general into disrepute.

    • TheRealDave says:

      01:29am | 01/06/10

      I used to support the idea of Unions - not any more…yet I still vote Labor only because I can’t stand the arseholes in the Lib/Nat parties.

      A few years ago I was looking after the IT side of a very large, and very public, sports redevelopment project. I got to witness first hand the shenanigans the Unions and their feral toadies got up to. I’d run out of fingers and toes counting the amount of times I saw them go into peoples offices and try and access their computers, intimidate workers/contractors etc damage/sabotage equipment etc all in an effort to delay the project and extort more money from the developers and government backers.

      As I said, up till then I was a fervent believer in the Union movement…not that I had anything to do with them personally despite getting Union Fees automatically deducted from my pay packet without a choice in various previous jobs, but believed in the idea about representing and supporting ‘the workers’ and their rights - I still do but not by these so called ‘Unions’. What I saw was disgusting, immoral, abhorrent and an anathema to that ideal. Never again will I utter a single word in support of those bastards. Never.


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