On 6 December, an independent review into the Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Act 2016––the legislation that re-established the ABCC––was tabled in Parliament.
The review showed the ABCC is meeting its role as an impartial regulator ensuring employers’ compliance with wages and entitlements obligations as well as regulating industry participants’ compliance with freedom of association, right of entry and other workplace laws. Some of the review’s findings include:
- Full-service regulator – The review assessed the performance of the ABCC as a full service regulator.
The activities of the ABCC since its establishment, together with the strategic priorities identified by the ABC Commissioner, are consistent with its full-service regulator function. p.3
- Independent oversight of compulsory examination powers – The review highlighted the appropriateness of the existing safeguards of the use of the Agency’s examination powers.
the safeguards and public accountability mechanisms incorporated in the current oversight arrangements in respect of the ABCC’s compulsory examination powers are adequate and appropriate. p.4
- Higher penalties – The review explored whether higher penalties are acting as a deterrent.
… little evidence as to the deterrent effects of the increased penalties provided under the BCIIP Act is currently available. This largely reflects the fact that no penalties have been imposed under the BCIIP Act. Limited evidence of reductions in the number of days lost to industrial disputes and the number of proceedings initiated by the ABCC since the commencement of the BCIIP Act may suggest that some incentive effects have been felt. However, no confident conclusion can be drawn on this point. p.6
- Security of payment – The review also considered the ABCC’s role in relation to security of payments, which is a new provision under the Act.
There is relatively limited support among stakeholders for the role of the ABCC in relation to security of payment matters. However, the ABC Commissioner believes that the Security of Payments Working Group has, to date, worked effectively and achieved significant outcomes. p.10
It should be noted that the review was conducted prior to the launch in mid-July of the ABCC’s security of payments campaign.
The review concluded that a cautious approach should be taken to the question of amending the BCIIP Act and 2016 Code stating:
… the review believes that a cautious approach should be taken to the question of amending the BCIIP Act and 2016 Code. Frequent legislative change has occurred in this field in recent years, with associated costs for industry participants in keeping up to date with their legislative obligations. Moreover, most submissions received from stakeholders expressed a desire for the current provisions to remain in force, at least in the medium term. p.66
Recommendations and Government response
- A copy of the full report and recommendations can be found on the Department of Jobs and Small Business website.
- A copy of the Australian Government’s response can be found on the Department of Jobs and Small Business website.
View a summary of the review on the ABCC website.