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Work of building and construction watchdog far from over


The Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) has demonstrated the fundamental need for an appropriate building and construction watchdog to stamp out a culture of bullying, intimidation and unlawful activity in the industry says Master Builders Australia CEO Denita Wawn.

The release of the ABCC’s 2021-22 annual report highlights the success of the body in ensuring compliance activities and enforcement outcomes.

“The ABCC has made a significant difference in ensuring building industry participants comply with the rule of law and it has driven much needed positive cultural change. The work of the ABCC is not yet done and Master Builders emphatically opposes any moves to abolish it.

“The report shows that since December 2016, over $17.33 million worth of penalties have been imposed with the CFMMEU accounting for 90 per cent of that, averaging around $53,000 a week.

“Over 2020-21 and 2021-22 alone, penalties were primarily around breaches involving right of entry, coercion, unlawful industrial action and unlawful picketing.

“Abolishing the ABCC without an appropriate replacement will give big unions the green light to ramp up these activities without fear of prosecution and risks shutting down worksites, stalling projects, and hurting the hip pockets of communities.

“We are already seeing instances of increased activity in states like South Australia which is threatening to shut down businesses.

Misinformation from the unions around the ABCC’s effectiveness has been debunked with the report showing since December 2016, the ABCC has recovered $5,723,522 for 9,044 employees, imposed $17,330,718 in penalties, awarded $728,359 in compensation to victims of unlawful conduct and had a 92 per cent success rate in proceedings finalised.

“The ABCC has made a stark observation around the disturbing nature of cases they have taken to court which they say are increasingly more serious and should not be seen in any workplace,” said Ms Wawn.

The report goes on to point out:

There have been several cases where females have been targeted with what we have alleged is intimidation, abuse and clearly unacceptable behaviour.

“The Government continues to say this Bill is needed to support females in the workplace but at the same time they are turning their backs on them in the building and construction industry,” said Ms Wawn.

“To abolish the ABCC abandons the two decades of bipartisan recognition that the construction sector requires industry-specific regulation and oversight.

“The Senate must resist the pressure from the unions to pursue industrial relations policies that will have an adverse effect on low unemployment, productivity, and impact real wages in the long-term,” said Ms Wawn.

Media contact:
Dee Zegarac
National Director, Media & Public Affairs
0400 493 071

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