The break-up of the national building regulator has moved a step closer as legislation to abolish the Australian Building and Construction Commission passes through the lower house of parliament.
The Building and Construction Industry Improvement Amendment (Transition to Fair Work) Bill, which will replace the ABCC with the new Fair Work Inspectorate, has passed through the House of Representatives and will now go through to the Senate.
As we have previously reported, the new body, which will be set up within Fair Work Australia, will still investigate illegal conduct in the building industry but will have reduced powers regarding information gathering and tighter timeframes in which to perform investigations.
Unless the Bill gets stuck in the senate, the ABCC will soon be history.
Unions, who feel that the ABCC has too much power and has not protected workers in the industry from unlawful behavior and unsafe work practices, are celebrating the latest developments. The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), a particularly vocal critic of the Commission, has welcomed the decision.
“The ABCC was set up by the Howard Government as part of an ideological attack on unions. It has been a $135 million waste of money, serving only to try and intimidate union members who stand up for decent wages and safety” says CFMEU Construction National Secretary Dave Noonan.
“It has failed to tackle illegal conduct by employers, including the widespread use of sham contracting which cost the taxpayer billions each year.
“Labor has a clear mandate to end the ABCC, having promised to do so at the 2007 and 2010 elections.
“I congratulate Labor MPs, the Greens’ Adam Bandt and independents Bob Katter and Andrew Wilkie for finally getting rid of this flawed and biased body. It is now up to the Senate to put the final nail in the ABCC’s coffin.”
Building and employer groups, however, say they are disappointed by the decision.
“Today’s decision by the House of Representatives to pass the Building and Construction Industry Improvement Amendment (Transition to Fair Work) Bill brings the abolition of the Australian Building and Construction Commissioner (ABCC) a disappointingly big step closer”, says Australian Industry Group Chief Executive Designate, Innes Willox.
“The abolition of the ABCC will increase the risk of unlawful industrial action and coercion on building sites”.