What MP Melissa Parke should do about the ABCC

Melissa Parke.

The letter below was written by Socialist Alliance member Justine Kamprad. She wrote it to federal member for Fremantle Melissa Parke after South Australian rigger Ark Tribe was found not guilty on November 24 of refusing to attend an interview with the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC).

Dear Melissa Parke,

As blue-collar workers, my partner and I 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 that Tribe was tried at all is a disgrace. Laws that compel people to answer questions in secret, do not guarantee people access to lawyers of their choice and breach other basic human rights should disgust you.

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

Recently we have seen too many deaths in construction and associated industries. Workers like us mourn every death. Recent rulings over the difference between “safety” and “industrial” disputes mean workers are fearful they may come under attack from the ABCC for trying to keep their workmates safe.

I am now 22 weeks pregnant and my partner is a safety representative in a company associated with Gorgon Project. The thought of him being the victim of a fatal or catastrophic accident fills me with fear. I 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, to refuse to submit to the coercive powers of the ABCC and, like Tribe, refuse to be interviewed.

I call on you to 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 party.

Do you believe that discrimination and coercion are wrong? If you do, you must act immediately and publicly to put an end to this disgrace.