The Federal Government has failed in its attempt to restore the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) after the Opposition, Greens and Crossbenchers Jacqui Lambie, Glenn Lazarus and Ricky Muir voted in the Senate against the reintroduction of the construction watchdog.
The Senate’s decision to block the return of the ABCC did not sit well with the AMMA, which branded the move as “disappointing” for Australia’s resource industry.
“In the current environment it is beyond belief that the Senate has voted against a more effective industrial watchdog for the construction industry, and more severe penalties for those found to be breaking the law,” said AMMA chief executive Steve Knott.
“This sends a very bad signal that our parliament is not interested in cleaning up the unlawfulness and thuggery bringing down one of Australia’s most important industries.”
He said the penalties for unlawful behaviour in the country’s construction industry would have tripled if the Senate had voted in favour of reinstating the ABCC.
“Under the current regulator the maximum penalties for such behaviour is $10,200 for an individual and $51,000 for the union. This is less than one-third of the penalties that would apply, at $180,000 for unions and $36,000 for individuals,” Mr Knot said.
“Australia needs stronger deterrents to stamp out thuggery, intimidation and illegality from our construction sector. Strong deterrents also have clear economic benefits, with the former ABCC having delivered a 9% productivity increase, reduced industrial action and saved consumers $7.5 billion.”
He said the AMMA would continue to support the Government’s efforts to restore the ABCC, adding that developing a contingency plan to bolster the powers and penalties available to the FWBC could also be a viable solution.
“AMMA calls on the government to reintroduce this legislation as soon as possible and continue to work with crossbench senators to get it over the line. This may require confidential briefings on any serious cases of criminality, coercion and intimidation uncovered by the Royal Commission into Trade Union Corruption that have not yet been made public,” Mr Knott added.
“If restoring the ABCC with its full former powers turns out to be politically unfeasible, the parliament could instead look to bolster the resources and deterrent penalties of the FWBC. With a record number of cases before the courts, the existing agency must be given all the tools it needs to successfully prosecute, penalise and discourage ongoing unlawful behaviour in our construction industry going forward.”