The $74 million state-funded stage 4 rebuild of Simonds Stadium is one of Geelong’s most important projects, and successive governments have invested over a long period of time in building this stadium. It was only last year that the Andrews Government fast-tracked new management of the facility by implementing the Kardinia Park Stadium Trust, which is led by former premier Steve Bracks.
This exciting development has now been stalled by the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union’s (CFMEU) objection to the Federal Government’s new Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC), which has targeted Kane Constructions in Geelong. Last Friday’s full day of industrial action and the further delays expected have cast a shadow over the Geelong Football Club’s first home game, but they’ve also put 150 workers’ jobs at risk.
Given the State Government’s supposed anti-bullying stance, the Minister for Industrial Relations Natalie Hutchins should appreciate the great benefits of the ABCC’s changes, which include harsher penalties for unlawful coercion of industrial action, as well as laws that aim to prevent some of the incidents that have previously occurred as a result of illegal union pickets in the industry.
The CFMEU’s scepticism and reluctance to accept the passing of this bill can only hurt Geelong and the Greater Geelong City Council, which has also allocated significant funding towards the rebuild at the Simonds Stadium.
The local community and the football club’s 52,000 members deserve to know what action is being taken to help the CFMEU reach an agreement with Kane Constructions and exactly how this delay will ultimately impact stage 4 and even stage 5 of the major redevelopment.
I’ve now called on the minister to work with the Kardinia Park Trust to help negotiate a resolution to the dispute, ensuring the work at Simonds Stadium is completed before Geelong’s first home game in May.