Master Builders’ ABCC report exposed as worthless

Published: 11 Aug 2022

A report commissioned by the Master Builders and released during the election campaign warning of extraordinary economic impacts of abolishing the ABCC has been exposed as “empirically empty and useless” in a scathing analysis by respected economist, Dr Phillip Toner.

“We said the MBA's report on the impact of the abolition of the ABCC was rubbish at the time of its release and it turns out this was a charitable assessment,” said Dave Noonan, CFMEU National Construction and General Division Secretary.

“This analysis shows the report is built out of false assumptions and wrong numbers and produces entirely unsupportable conclusions. It cannot be taken seriously as a piece of credible economic analysis and should have no place in ongoing attempts to influence public policy.”

“The fact that the Master Builders and their fellow travellers in the Coalition have used this report as the basis for their desperate campaign to save the ABCC reveals just how devoid of evidence or reason their arguments for its retention really are.”

“The extraordinary list of qualifications, disclaimers and exclusions regarding the analysis and use of the report stated by Ernst & Young at the beginning and reiterated throughout the text should have served as a warning against anyone taking it seriously.”

“Contrary to the central claim of the Master Builders’ report productivity went backwards in construction under the ABCC. And it based many of its economic conclusions on a survey of just 49 participants from an industry with over 350,000 businesses - in what Dr Toner describes as ‘effectively anecdotal - empirically empty and useless as a basis for analysis and modelling’.”

“The EY report also manifestly overstates the impact of industrial action, even when measured against the tiny sample size of the ‘business survey’ it is largely based upon. Barely more than a dozen respondents reported ever experiencing industrial action in their workplaces.”

Analysis of the ’data’ in Table 1 EY Respondents Assessment of the frequency of industrial activities at worksites, reveals that nearly two-thirds of respondents reported they ‘never’ or ‘rarely’ experienced industrial action at their worksites implying they had no direct factual basis for making any assessment of the impact of industrial action.’

“This EY report is just the latest in a long line of commissioned reports, put together by economists-for-hire, which are used to attack unions and undermine working rights. Few have been so nakedly self-serving and unsupported by underlying economic fundamentals.”

“Construction workers, employers in the industry, and the public at large deserve a better quality of analysis than what has been dished up in the Master Builders’ EY report. Australia faces a range of economic challenges that require serious conversation to improve wages and job security and address the cost of living. The Master Builders’ EY report should have no place in those conversations.”

Read the analysis of the EY Report by Dr Philip Toner here.