Building industry lobby groups in Australia have hailed a disallowance motion that would stop a new federal building code which regulates the industrial relations practices of all contractors bidding for work on Commonwealth funded construction projects.
Both the Australian Constructors Association and (ACA) Master Builders Australia have come out in support of the motion, saying the Building Code 2013 was introduced without consultation, will cause more uncertainty, and represents an effort to override state based industrial relations guidelines.
Both lobby groups have urged the government to withdraw the code and work with the industry to develop a replacement version which promotes certainty and productivity.
“Giving legal effect to a set of administrative guidelines without apparent regard for the legal and operational impact that consultation would have identified makes no rational sense,” ACA executive director Lindsay Le Compte says. “In addition, the apparent attempt, through the making of the Code, to override the construction industry industrial relations guidelines operating in Victoria, and proposed for NSW, only adds further to the potential confusion for contractors tendering for important government infrastructure projects.”
Introduced last month a mere 32 hours before it took effect, the code requires contractors bidding for Commonwealth-funded projects to have effective plans and procedures in place to deal with industrial disputes and occupational health and safety issues, to comply with the Fair Work Act and other relevant laws, and to report actual or threatened industrial action to the Director of Fair Work Building Industry Inspectorate.
While Employment and Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten says the Code provides contractors with clear rules, the coalition, which moved the disallowance motion on Wednesday, sees it an attack on Victoria’s Construction Code.
If accepted in Parliament or left unresolved within 15 days, the disallowance motion would veto the government’s use of executive power to implement the code, meaning that the code would effectively cease to be in force.
Master Builders chief executive Wilhelm Harnisch says the Code as it stands serves no good purpose and creates confusion.
“Despite the Government’s assurance that the Code does not create new compliance processes, sections six and 18 set out new requirements. These new requirements are inconsistent with section 228 of the Fair Work Act dealing with good faith bargaining. They must be clarified urgently or better still, withdrawn as they are solely in the code to defeat State based codes,” Harnisch says. “For construction companies, the concern is they may not be compliant and could miss out on Government funded work while questions about the Code go unanswered.”