Minister for Jobs and Industrial Relations, the Hon Kelly O’Dwyer MP, has announced that the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) will receive $3.7 million in additional funding and resources over four years from 2019-20 to boost its ability to enforce laws on building and construction sites.
In announcing the plan this morning, Minister O’Dwyer said that since the ABCC was re-established, it has received over 470 complaints and carried out 355 investigations.
The construction industry is Australia’s second largest contributor to GDP and provides jobs for almost one in 10 Australian workers, with many of these jobs found in the small businesses that make up 99 per cent of the industry.
The Minister said most of these small businesses are at the bottom of the contracting supply chain, making them particularly vulnerable to unions and large construction companies.
The ABCC has had countless cases against the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU), with almost $10 million in penalties ordered by the courts since 2016.
Australian Mines and Metals Association (AMMA) Chief Executive Steve Knott said that without an independent watchdog to hold the CFMMEU to account, small business owners and individual Australian employees would be left to pay for their own litigation.
“The sad reality is that more public resources are necessary to hold certain building industry participants to account for their repeated, recidivist breaches of Australia’s workplace laws,” Mr Knott said.
“Just last week the Federal Court ordered a significant $250,000 penalty against the CFMMEU who not only breached Australian laws but showed no remorse for the impact on small business owners,” he commented.
Mr Knott concluded that AMMA ‘is pleased’ that Minister O’Dwyer stood up for everyday Australians, protecting their businesses and the country’s interests by promoting legal compliance and upholding workplace laws.
In response to this morning’s news, the CFMMEU said that the Morrison Government has demonstrated ‘once again’ it is in the pocket of property developers and building industry employer groups by pouring even more resources into going after workers.