'If I have to, I will go to jail for it': Call to scrap ABCC bill at May Day rally
By Jean Kennedy
A building union official has told a May Day rally in Sydney he would prefer to go to jail than “give up” a fellow worker if interrogated under the coercive powers contained in the Federal Government’s proposed bill to set up a new industry watchdog.
With his two children beside him on the rally podium, CFMEU delegate Dennis McNamara described the bill to resurrect the Australian Building and Construction Commission as “disgraceful”.
He said it would give the Commission significant coercive powers, forcing building workers to attend interviews and compelling them to speak, with those who refuse to do so automatically going to jail for six months.
The bill to bring back the ABCC has twice been rejected by the Senate, giving Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull a trigger for a double dissolution election set for July 2.
Mr Macnarama told the rally the coercive powers in the bill would deny building workers the right to silence, as exists under the normal legal system.
“It means that as a building worker I don’t have that right to silence,” he said.
“I could leave here today (Sunday) and go and murder someone, or go down the road and sell ice to a 14-year-old kid, and when I am interrogated [I’d] have the right to silence under our law and I can have a legal representative of my choice,” he said.
“But because I’m a building worker and I work in the construction industry, I’m denied that right under this bill, and that’s shameful.”
Mr Macnarama said he would never tell the ABCC anything if he was interrogated.
“What I face if I don’t speak up, is six months jail,” he said.
“I don’t want to go to jail, nobody wants to go to jail.
“My children who are up here with me, they don’t want to come and visit me in jail because I won’t ‘give up’ a fellow worker.
“But I won’t do it. And if I have to, I will go to jail for it. And so will many others.”
Mr Macnamara and his nine-year-old son Ronan and 12-year-old daughter Niamh were among around 2,000 people who marched through Sydney’s CBD as part of the annual May Day rally, highlighting concerns about workers’ rights and conditions.