Baillieu calls for inquiry into construction costs

Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu will again push for an inquiry into construction costs at the COAG meeting in Canberra today.

The Government has already introduced strict new rules aimed at cracking down on some union activities on government-funded building sites, sparking angry protests by the state's construction unions.

The Premier says construction costs have increased significantly in the past decade and the impact of union activity is one of the issues the inquiry would look at.

"We have to get a handle on why costs have escalated as fast as they have and get a handle on that, otherwise we'll price ourselves out of infrastructure in the future and that will be to everyone's detriment," he said.

"We need to have a comprehensive examination of the inputs into construction, how they've moved over time, how we compare to our competitors off shore and indeed across the states." Deputy Opposition Leader James Merlino disagrees.

"The best way to deal with productivity in Victoria is actually getting construction happening," he said.

"Where are the cranes in Melbourne and Victoria? "Where is the activity? That's how you tackle productivity, actually going out and doing something." The Premier says the other states support an inquiry and he is hopeful the Commonwealth will also come to the table.

His call for an inquiry comes as workers on a dozen construction projects walked off the job yesterday because of a dispute with one of Australia's biggest contractors.

Dave Noonan of the CFMEU says they have been in dispute with builder Lend Lease since March over an agreement on pay and conditions.

"Our members want to ensure that there is a decent clause dealing with job security so that their jobs are not undermined by sham contracting or labour hire," he said.

Union members walked off the job for a two days at 22 lend lease sites nation-wide.

Twelve were in Victoria including the new wholesale fruit and vegetable market at Epping and the redevelopment of the old Royal Children's Hospital site.

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