The Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) has reminded builders and unions alike that its powers are still in place, days after Labor carried a pledge to abolish the watchdog to federal election victory.
In a Monday statement, the oversight body advised industry participants that it “continues with our business as usual, as per our legislation, until there is a change in our governing regulations”.
Builders, workers, and unions alike “remain subject to their legal obligations under the existing legislation,” the ABCC added, while contractors and other entities covered by the Code for the Tendering and Performance of Building Work 2016 are still covered by those obligations.
That reminder arrived the same day Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was sworn into office, after successfully campaigning on a pledge to shut down the ABCC if his party won the balance of power in Parliament.
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Labor’s promise to unwind the ABCC is only the latest chapter in the Commission’s tumultuous history.
First established under Coalition Prime Minister John Howard in 2005, the ABCC was created to ensure building sites were compliant with Australian workplace law and to address concerns regarding worksite culture.
Labor unwound the body in 2012, after unions accused the ABCC imposing draconian financial penalties against workers, while doing too little to combat wage theft and boost worksite safety.
The proposed re-institution of the ABCC helped trigger 2016’s double dissolution election.
As Albanese geared up his 2022 election campaign, the Master Builders Association (MBA) last month released modelling claiming another closure of the ABCC could cost the Australian economy $47 billion in lost economic gains by 2030.
Former industrial relations minister Michaelia Cash declared Labor’s plan would be an “unmitigated disaster”.
Claims of looming economic damage were disputed by Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union national construction secretary Dave Noonan, who claimed the MBA modelling “misunderstands serious issues in the industry related to the insolvency and collapse of builders”.
In a post-election statement, Master Builders’ Victorian branch declared it will “continue to work with the new government to provide further evidence on the importance to Victorians of maintaining a building and construction industry watchdog”.
SmartCompany has contacted MBA for comment.