Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Bill Reintroduced
Wednesday 3 February 2016 @ 10.43 a.m. | Industrial Law
In 2013, the Federal Government resurrected the Australian Building Construction Commission (ABCC) as we outlined here. However, the bill was ultimately defeated by the Senate after a series of allegations that the bill was discriminatory. The bill has been reintroduced into the House of Representative on 2 February 2016 without any amendments. The bill will, like its predecessor, re-establish the ABCC, described as a genuinely strong watchdog that will maintain the rule of law to protect workers and constructors and improve productivity on building sites.
The former ABCC was introduced by the Howard Government in 2005 to polarising effect. It was hailed by building industry lobby groups for its role in restoring law and order to the industry but was in turn despised by unions who criticised the body for its biased and unaccountable nature. The unions further criticised the body as discriminatory towards workers in the construction sector as it acted as a separate regulator for a sector that did not warrant separate regulation. The body was abolished by the former Labour Government in 2012 which subsequently set up the current Fair Work Industry Inspectorate.
According to Christopher Pyne in his second reading speech:
“The bill prohibits unlawful industrial action, unlawful picketing, and coercion and discrimination. Penalties that are high enough to provide an effective deterrent will apply to breaches of these provisions. A wide range of effective remedies such as injunctions will also be available to the ABCC and persons affected by unlawful behaviour.”
The bill has been reintroduced following the outcome of the Heydon Royal Commission. The Commission found a culture of ‘widespread and deep-seated’ misconduct by union officials, and detailed a long list of officials whom it said may be guilty of criminal activity including blackmail, bribes and threats of violence.
Australian Industry Group Chief Executive Officer Innes Willox said:
“It is patently obvious that it is in the community’s interests for the Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Bill to be passed by Parliament and all Senators need to support it,”
He further stipulated that the bill will only operate to target those who disregard the community’s interest under the current inadequate legal framework and that those who operated fairly and conscionably within the law had nothing to fear.
TimeBase is an independent, privately owned Australian legal publisher specialising in the online delivery of accurate, comprehensive and innovative legislation research tools including LawOne and unique Point-in-Time Products.
Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Bill 2013 [No. 2] and Building and Construction Industry (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2013 [No. 2] and related materials as reported in the TimeBase LawOne Service