Funding for Australia’s construction watchdog will be allowed to lapse if efforts to abolish the commission fail.
Employment Minister Tony Burke says he wants to see the Australian Building and Construction Commission abolished soon, with legislation to scrap the body to be introduced later this year.
The commission’s powers will be reduced to the bare minimum before reverting to the Fair Work Ombudsman and to health and safety regulators.
Mr Burke says should the legislation to abolish the watchdog not pass through the parliament, the funding would not be renewed.
“Their funding on the pre-election costings that were released dries up anyway,” he told ABC Radio on Tuesday.
“There’s an extent that there’s minimum fees you have to pay for board members and things like that, that’s not unknown.”
However the head of the commission will still be paid his $450,000 salary.
Mr Burke says the salary will still have to be continued until the watchdog is repealed, due to it being a statutory appointment.
“I would have loved to abolish the organisation yesterday,” he said.
“But, you know, in terms of legislative program, that legislation will come probably in a couple of months time.”
Independent senator David Pocock says there is a need to find a balance between ensuring workers have access to union support without intimidation returning to worksites.
Mr Burke says he has been in discussion with Senator Pocock about the legislation.
“We’ve been in touch via text. There’s a conversation that we we haven’t had because this announcement obviously was was only made on Sunday,” he said.
Opposition employment spokeswoman Michaelia Cash says there is confusion in the industry following the decision to scrap the watchdog.
“The industry was expecting consultation period, an orderly transition period, certainly not having it rushed on them like this,” she told ABC radio on Tuesday.
“That is not a great start to a government that has only been elected a few weeks ago.”