Open letter to Melissa Parke on the ABCC

November 23, 2010

Dear Melissa Parke, Federal ALP MP for Fremantle,

As blue collar workers, I and my partner have been involved with our unions over the past decade. In that time, I have seen our unions fight for safety, dignity and a better life for our family.

I welcome the "not guilty" verdict in the trial of Ark Tribe, but the fact that Mr Tribe was on trial at all is a disgrace. Laws that compel people answer questions in secret, do not guarantee people access to lawyers of their choice and involved other breaches of basic human rights should disgust you.

Your government refocusing the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) on to sham contracting or other employer crimes is not good enough; all the coercive and discriminatory powers of this body must be removed immediately. Every day these laws exist they put fear into the hearts of construction workers who, like Mr Tribe, seek to raise basic safety issues.

Recently, we have seen too many deaths in the construction and associated industries. Every death is mourned by workers like us. With recent rulings over the difference between “safety” and “industrial” disputes, workers are fearful they may come under the ire of the ABCC for attempting to keep their workmates safe.

I am now 22 weeks pregnant and my partner is a safety rep in a company associated with Gorgon Project. The thought of him being the victim of a fatal or catastrophic accident fills me with fear — fear that my child will not have the father it needs as it grows up.

I support every decision that he makes to stand up for workers around him to make sure that, like him, they go home safe. I will also support a decision, should he make it, for him to not be subject to the coercive powers of the ABCC and, like Mr Tribe, refuse to be interviewed under the coercive powers that currently exist.

I call on you to also support workers like my partner and immediately introduce a private members bill to remove all coercive and discriminatory powers of the ABCC.

I believe that the test of a person is standing up for something they believe in, even if it is inconvenient to their career or political party. The question I have for you now is do you believe that discrimination and coercion are wrong? If you do you must act immediately and publicly to put and end to this disgrace.


Justine Kamprad
Constitute of Fremantle Electorate.

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