The Government’s proposed changes to the implementation of the Building Code will help to restore the rule of law to construction sites sooner and should be supported by the Parliament, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry said today.
The Australian Chamber strongly supported last year’s Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Act, which re-established the Australian Building and Construction Commission and strengthened penalties against unlawful industrial action and coercion.
However during crossbench negotiations several concessions were made, including an amendment to enable contractors to continue to submit expressions of interest, tender for and be awarded Commonwealth-funded building work until November 29, 2018, even if they have enterprise agreements in place that did not comply with the Building Code.
The Building Code sets out the standard of conduct for building industry participants involved in Commonwealth-funded building work. It is designed to promote compliance with the law and to encourage safe, healthy, fair, lawful and productive building sites.
The Building Code also regulates the content of enterprise agreements. It prohibits the anti-competitive practice of making agreements that restrict the form and type of subcontractor engaged, which often prevents small businesses from sharing in Commonwealth-funded work.
James Pearson, CEO of the Australian Chamber, said: “We are pleased to see the Government is now seeking to fine-tune the timing of the Building Code after its legislative success in reinstating the ABCC last year. This demonstrates a willingness to listen to the concerns of people on the front-line of this issue.
“Bringing forward the start date of the Building Code to September this year, rather than late 2018, will minimise the disadvantage experienced by construction businesses that did the right thing in negotiating their enterprise agreements in accordance with the Code. It will also deliver greater certainty to those with existing agreements who are transitioning to the new arrangements.
“Australian taxpayers, construction businesses, subcontractors and workers will be better off through the swifter return to the rule of law on building sites. The sooner the Code is applied, the better.
“We need to support businesses that stand up to union intimidation tactics rather than putting them at a disadvantage.
“These changes will further improve the productivity of our nation’s construction sites, which impacts on our economy and the services available to the community. We urge all members of Parliament to support them.”