The Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) bill passed the Upper House this week, with the Senate passing the amended industrial relations legislation: 36-33.
Commenting on the decision, Innes Willox, Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) Chief Executive, said: “Ai Group is relieved that the ABCC Bill has finally passed through the Senate after more than three years of torrid debate. The final package will deliver vital reforms to the Australian construction industry and the broader community.
“The rule of law is set to be re-established on building sites. The significant increase in penalties that will apply to unlawful conduct should ensure that the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) changes its current unacceptable approach of blatantly disregarding industrial laws. If it does not, the ABCC will have the necessary powers to hold the union to account.
“The new Building Code that will be made under the ABCC legislation once it comes into operation will ensure that enterprise agreements and site practices that apply on Australian Government projects do not prevent work being carried out productively and efficiently. The transitional arrangements that have been agreed upon in Parliament will give construction industry contractors some time to achieve compliance with the new arrangements.
“We also welcome the Government’s commitment to ensuring equitable access to government contracts for Australian businesses. In particular ensuring procurement is consistent with relevant regulations and requiring firmer evidence of compliance with applicable Australian or international standards is very important. These measures have the potential to improve safety and quality outcomes and to ensure that businesses that take care to ensure regulatory compliance and conformance with standards are not put at a disadvantage when competing for government work. To be effective without imposing additional compliance costs, the measures will need to be designed in close consultation with industry.”