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Perseverance and hard work paid off as ABCC Bill passes through the Senate

"The Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) is relieved that the ABCC Bill has finally passed through the Senate after more than three years of torrid debate. Ai Group thanks and congratulates the Government and the Crossbench Senators who supported the Bill for their perseverance and hard work. Compromises were necessary to enable this important Bill to be passed. The final package will deliver vital reforms to the Australian construction industry and the broader community," Innes Willox, Ai Group Chief Executive, said today.

"The rule of law is set to be re-established on building sites. The significant increase in penalties that will apply to unlawful conduct should ensure that the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) changes its current unacceptable approach of blatantly disregarding industrial laws. If it does not, the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) will have the necessary powers to hold the union to account.

"The reforms in the Bill apply equally to employers, employees and unions. Those who comply with the law have nothing to fear from the ABCC.

"The new Building Code that will be made under the ABCC legislation once it comes into operation is a central aspect of the reforms. The Code will ensure that enterprise agreements and site practices that apply on Australian Government projects do not prevent work being carried out productively and efficiently. The transitional arrangements that have been agreed upon in Parliament will give construction industry contractors some time to achieve compliance with the new arrangements.

"We also welcome the Government's commitment to ensuring equitable access to government contracts for Australian businesses.  In particular ensuring procurement is consistent with relevant regulations and requiring firmer evidence of compliance with applicable Australian or international standards is very important. These measures have the potential to improve safety and quality outcomes and to ensure that businesses that take care to ensure regulatory compliance and conformance with standards are not put at a disadvantage when competing for government work. To be effective without imposing additional compliance costs, the measures will need to be designed in close consultation with industry.

"Ai Group would like to thank the Minister for Employment, Senator Michaelia Cash, for her work in securing the passage of the Bill and for her pragmatism in negotiating the details of the final legislation.

"Ai Group looks forward to working with the Government, the ABCC and construction industry businesses to ensure that the new laws and arrangements are implemented as quickly and smoothly as possible," Mr Willox said.  

Media Enquiries: Tony Melville – 0419 190 347