THE troubled $1 billion Jewel resort project on the Gold Coast is a stark warning to government that laws governing the conduct of unscrupulous developers are grossly inadequate and must be urgently overhauled.
Although workers returned to the job today after a guarantee of job security until Christmas from builder Multiplex, the cause of the problems which saw workers down tools earlier this month remains unresolved.
Construction workers and contractors across Queensland are still reeling from the dispute, which was sparked after developer YuHu Group Australia sought to drastically alter the contractual scope of the project at short notice, resulting in the immediate loss of more than 150 jobs and putting hundreds more at risk.
“This is a brutal example of bad laws that put the interests of big money way ahead of the wellbeing of workers and contractors, and urgent legislative reform to prevent a repeat of this corporate thuggery is needed,” CFMEU Divisional Branch Secretary Michael Ravbar said.
As it stands workers, contractors, trade unions and builders are subject to often heavy handed regulation and guarantees on any given project in Queensland, he said.
“Developers, however, are left largely unregulated, resulting in the sort of callous abuse of power that we have seen on the Gold Coast.”
“This is not an isolated problem, but a legislative failure that leaves the leaves construction workers and contractors across Queensland hanging out to dry.”
Mr Ravbar said the state government must review the laws, and give the Queensland Building and Construction Commission the power to regulate developers – a call that has been echoed by QBCC chair Dick Williams.
“A government that was a sensible economic manager would reform legislation to protect this vital pillar of the Queensland economy from this sort of bastardry.”
“There is nothing to prevent this happening again and again, with predatory developers like YuHu leaving a trail of economic ruin across the state,” he said.
“Public Works and Housing Minister Mick de Brenni needs to launch an immediate roots and branch review of legislation that, as we have seen with the Jewel project, has been proven manifestly inadequate.”
“A failure to act swiftly on this sends a message to developers that they are free to alter contract terms, and cast workers adrift, at a whim and with little or no consequence.”
“Construction workers know exactly what needs to change and will campaign relentlessly until we see meaningful reform,” Mr Ravbar said.