While it was such a bone of political contention throughout 2016, many people are confused by the role that the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) plays and what it actually is. A powerful industry watchdog, the ABCC is a statutory authority with the responsibility to monitor workplace relations in the Australian building and construction industry and provide information about and enforce compliance with the same.
In this blog, Skills Certified explores the role, purpose and scope of the ABCC, and provides a brief introduction for anyone entering the building and construction industry. Read on to learn more.
Origins and reinstatement
While it was pushed to the frontpages by its role in the previous election, the ABCC has a much longer history. Originally established in 2002 as the Building Industry Taskforce, in response to the findings of the 2001 Royal Commission into the Building and Construction Industry by the then-Howard Coalition government, the ABCC assumed its current form in 2005. It operated in this capacity for seven years before being abolished by the Rudd Labor Government in 2012, and was subsequently replaced with Fair Work Building & Construction, which lacked some of the coercive powers of the ABCC.
Reinstatement of the ABCC became a political focus of the Turnbull Coalition government after the findings of the Royal Commission into trade union governance and corruption were published in December 2015. After a year of unsuccessful attempts at re-establishment and taking the promise to the 2016 election, the relevant legislation was passed through Parliament and the ABCC reinstated.
A comprehensive range of powers
The ABCC is a given broad powers of investigation and enforcement with regards to industrial relations laws. The regulatory focus of the ABCC includes unlawful industrial action, coercion, right of entry to a job site by union officials, sham contracting, ensuring compliance with the National Code of Practice and underpayment and denial of entitlements. The ABCC has the power to compel a person with evidence relating to an investigation to answer questions, provide information or produce documents, under threat of prosecution with a maximum penalty of six months imprisonment.
The ABCC is a part of every jobsite and knowledge of industrial relations law is a key to a successful career in building and construction. If you’re looking to achieve a qualification in this exciting and growing industry, work with the team at Skills Certified.