The ABCC Commissioner has exercised his power under section 108 of the Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Act 2016 to publish details of non-compliance with the Building Code by the privately owned construction company, St Hilliers Contracting Pty Ltd (St Hilliers).

The ABCC Commissioner considers that it is in the public interest to publish details of this non-compliance with the Code for the Tendering and Performance of Building Work 2016 (Cth) (the Code) to promote respect for the rule of law.

In late 2020, the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) commenced an audit of St Hilliers Contracting Pty Ltd.

The ABCC audit, and St Hilliers’ own internal investigation, identified that over the course of approximately seven years, eight, now former St Hilliers employees, submitted certain variation requests to St Hilliers client, the Department of Defence, which falsely inflated subcontractor quotes (and, by extension, the claimed value of those variations), so that the Department of Defence would pay the falsely inflated amounts to St Hilliers.

The conduct occurred on 25 Commonwealth funded construction projects across New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria, Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory. The conduct occurred on 130 occasions, and unlawfully generated $1,377,897 for St Hilliers.

The particulars of the contraventions are set out in the notice of non-compliance published today by the ABCC Commissioner.

St Hilliers has admitted to the Code breaches identified by the ABCC. St Hilliers has expressed remorse for the breaches which have occurred and has repaid in full the amounts payable to the Department of Defence.

St Hilliers has implemented rectification measures and the ABCC Commissioner accepted that these rectification measures are likely to militate against the conduct reoccurring. Those measures include:

  • Employee screening;
  • Whistle-blower policy;
  • Internal ethics training;
  • External ethics training;
  • Variation submission and work instruction process and system adjustments;
  • Audit process;
  • Staff incentive review; and
  • Culture review.

Section 108 of the Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Act 2016 provides that:

If the ABC Commissioner considers that it is in the public interest to do so, the ABC Commissioner may publish details of:

  • non‑compliance with the Building Code, including the name of the person who has failed to comply; and
  • non‑compliance by a building industry participant with this Act or designated building laws, including the name of the participant who has failed to comply. 

On 26 July 2022, the Code was amended by the Code for the Tendering and Performance of Building Work Amendment Instrument 2022 (the Amendment Instrument). The Amendment Instrument removed most of the substantive requirements of the Code, however the breaches identified in the publication of non-compliance occurred prior to those amendments.

Media Release
4 November 2022