November 2014 Industry Update

Compulsory examinations

FWBC has become aware of a number of misconceptions within the building and construction industry about our compulsory examination powers. In this edition of Industry Update, we will help you separate myth from fact.

MYTH – Compulsory examinations will only be reintroduced if the Australian Building and Construction Commission is reinstated.

FACT – FWBC already has had compulsory examination powers since it was established on 1 June 2012. In fact, 13 notices for compulsory examinations have been issued  in the past six months.

MYTH – The compulsory examination laws apply to no other industry in Australia.  

FACT – There are numerous federal departments, agencies and other Commonwealth bodies that have the power to conduct compulsory examinations. FWBC’s examination powers are more restricted than some other Commonwealth bodies. The Australian Taxation Office (ATO), Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), and Australian Crime Commission (ACC) have all had similar powers to FWBC, but for much longer. Even Medicare and Centrelink have similar powers.

MYTH – Interviewees must attend examinations alone, without support.

FACT – Interviewees are allowed to bring a lawyer. FWBC will even pay for an interviewee’s lawyer (along with any other reasonable costs incurred for attendance).

MYTH – Interviewees can be forced to participate in an examination at any time.

FACT - A minimum of 14 days’ notice is required for any compulsory examination. 

MYTH – Interviewees can be interrogated by a number of officers. 

FACT – Only the FWBC Director is conducting examinations. Other appropriate persons, such as an Inspector, may also be present at an examination to assist the Director.

MYTH - Interviewees are not allowed to discuss their experiences after the examination.

FACT - Anyone undergoing an examination is free to talk about the examination afterwards. However, FWBC staff may only disclose information about the examination in certain limited circumstances.

MYTH – FWBC uses compulsory powers to force interviewees to incriminate themselves.

FACT - The aim of FWBC’s examinations is to gain information in relation to its investigations. None of the information, answers or documents provided in an examination can be used as evidence against an interviewee in any other court proceedings. No person suspected of breaking the law is called into an examination. However criminal offences do apply to interviewees who provide false or misleading information.

More information

Further information on compulsory examinations is available on the FWBC website at www.fwbc.gov.au/examination-powers and via the FWBC Hotline on 1800 003 338.

We value your feedback on our Industry Update. Please provide feedback or tell us what you would like in your update by contacting us at media [at] fwbc.gov.au.

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