Sad exit of the man who took on building industry yobbos
John Lloyd, the Australian Building and Construction Commissioner, is paid $400,000 a year. Could a public servant ever be worth that much?
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.
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