An Active Watchdog

The Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) has been present in various forms since the Cole Royal Commission into the Building and Construction Industry tabled its final report in March 2003. Whilst it is hard to argue with the ABCC’s vision “that all Australian building and construction workplaces are fair, efficient and productive” nor its mission “to ensure that the rule of law prevails in the Australian building and construction industry”, the ABCC has become something of a political football in recent years.

The Building Industry Taskforce was established in October 2002 as an interim body to secure the law in the industry prior to the establishment of the national agency envisaged by Commissioner Cole. In March 2004 the Interim Taskforce became a permanent taskforce, operating until the establishment of the Office of the Australian Building and Construction Commissioner (ABCC) in October 2005. The Building and Construction Industry Improvement Act 2005 established the office of the ABCC as an independent statutory authority, with the agency commencing operations in October of that year.

Justice Murray Wilcox’s report, Transition to Fair Work Australia for the Building and Construction Industry, was submitted to Minister Gillard in March 2009, where recommendations were made on the structure and powers of the specialist division that would replace the ABCC. The Fair Work Act 2009 replaced the Workplace Relations Act 1996, amalgamating the government agencies that previously administered the workplace relations system into two new regulatory bodies: Fair Work Commission and Fair Work Ombudsman. From June 2012, the Fair Work Building & Construction (FWBC) replaced the ABCC as the building industry regulator.

The Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Act 2016 re-established the ABCC that we know today, replacing the FWBC. Since that time, we have had numerous conversations with clients in the industry who have been audited by the ABCC, and testified to the rigour and depth of the process. Although RPR Trades has a code compliant Enterprise Agreement (including against the recent Section 11 amendments), together with diligent and highly experienced Leaders, Consultants and Payroll staff, it was with some trepidation that we took a call from the ABCC telling us that it was our turn next for an audit.

Whilst the process was indeed rigourous and exhaustive, it was nothing less than what we would want and expect to see from a regulatory body with the vision and mission stated above. The communication and professionalism of the ABCC team undertaking the audit also made the whole exercise quite seamless, despite the scale of it. Moreover, industrial relations is littered with grey areas, so we were grateful for the level of understanding as a couple of areas for improvement were identified, which also provided a wonderful opportunity for us to learn, and make appropriate rectifications.

Many thanks to Hayley, Cheryl and the team at RPR Trades for all of their hard work through the audit, and to the ABCC team for providing a first-hand demonstration of how the ABCC vision and mission commitments are being honoured. At RPR Trades we continue to take pride in ensuring fair wages and conditions for our On-Hire Employees, whilst enabling productive and stable workforces for our Clients.

Please feel free to call RPR Trades on 1300 311 777 should you require any recruitment or labour hire assistance, for skilled or semi-skilled blue collar workforces.

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