Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke announced today that the powers of the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) will be immediately cut back to the bare minimum before legislation is introduced later this year to abolish it completely.

Australian Constructors Association CEO Jon Davies said the construction industry acknowledges the government’s plans to implement election commitments which include expanding the role of the Fair Work Ombudsmen in lieu of the ABCC and said industry stands ready to work with government to ensure there is sufficient regulatory oversight for the sector.

“With critical workforce shortages and record investment in infrastructure, an industrial relations landscape that promotes improved productivity of the construction industry is essential,” said Mr Davies.

“It is accepted that employers, employees and associations should be covered by the same rules; however, these must be sufficient to ensure productive outcomes. While the construction industry currently has additional oversight, it is important that the pendulum not swing too far towards an unregulated environment that fails to recognise the unique and, at times, troubled history of the sector.

“Australia needs a workplace system where officers of registered organisations have the same duties and obligations to officers of corporations, with a regulatory body sufficiently resourced to provide adequate oversight, enforcement, and meaningful consequences for unlawful behaviour.

“Ongoing drug and alcohol testing requirements are important as the safety consequences of drug and alcohol impairment on a construction site cannot be overstated, irrespective of how projects are funded.”

Working arrangements are also directly linked to worker wellbeing and the Australian Constructors Association believes tackling key issues impacting the culture of the sector are interconnected with industrial relations issues.

“The Federal Government’s commitment to improving gender pay equity and prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace is to be applauded. There is direct alignment with the proposed Culture Standard for the construction industry published by the Construction Industry Culture Taskforce—of which the Australian Constructors Association is a key partner.

“We are also supportive of sustainable measures to improve job security in the sector, such as greater use of program/enterprise approaches to delivery of public infrastructure.

“Flexible work arrangements and allowing tradespeople to continue working as independent contractors where they desire to do so should be retained,” said Mr Davies.

The Australian Constructors Association is the only representative body for contractors delivering major vertical and horizontal construction as well as providing construction services.