Release type: Media Release


Critical IR reform Bills presented to Parliament


Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash
Minister for Employment
Minister for Women
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service
Senator for Western Australia

Today the Turnbull Government introduced into the Parliament three critical pieces of workplace relations legislation, delivering on the commitments made to the Australian people.

The three workplace relations bills the Government has introduced include;

  • Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Bill 2013 – to restore the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC);
  • Fair Work Amendment (Respect for Emergency Services Volunteers) Bill 2016 – to protect Country Fire Authority volunteers and other firefighting and state emergency service volunteer bodies; and
  • Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Amendment Bill 2014 – to establish an independent Registered Organisations Commission.

These Bills will deliver a more productive and lawful building industry; will safeguard Victorian Country Fire Authority (CFA) volunteers from a hostile union takeover; and ensure registered organisations are transparent and accountable to their members.

The restoration of the ABCC is an essential component of the Coalition’s comprehensive economic plan to deliver jobs and growth. The Heydon Royal Commission and numerous court decisions show there’s ample evidence to support the reestablishment of the ABCC. The case for change is undeniable.

As the nation’s third largest industry employing more than one million Australians, the building and construction sector is vital to deliver economic growth and the 21st Century infrastructure that Australians expect and deserve. However, since the abolition of the ABCC by the former Labor Government the industry has been marred by widespread disregard for the law, inefficient practices and blatant thuggery.

The reintroduction of the ABCC will ensure our building and construction sector is safe, lawful and productive. Meaningful penalties for unlawful behaviour will ensure workplaces are fair and productive and Australian taxpayers will receive value for money on infrastructure investments.

The Coalition Government also introduced as a priority, legislation to amend the Fair Work Act to support the work of volunteer emergency services bodies. This will protect the volunteers of the Victorian Country Fire Authority (CFA) from being subjected to a hostile takeover by the United Firefighters Union.

The 60,000 volunteers of the CFA make a selfless contribution to keep the Victorian community safe. They now need the support of the Federal Parliament to pass minor amendments to the Fair Work Act to ensure they themselves are protected from a militant union who are seeking to undermine the CFA’s autonomy, effectiveness and management of its volunteers.

CFA volunteers do not hesitate to support Victorians in their hour of need - the Parliament now has a duty to stand up for this essential institution and allow them to continue to do what they do best.

Today the Coalition has also reintroduced legislation to establish an independent Registered Organisations Commission in order to provide greater transparency and improve governance of registered organisations.

The Registered Organisations Commission will impose strong obligations on employer organisations and unions, with strong penalties for anyone found to be engaged in wrongdoing. Australian workers deserve nothing less.

The Heydon Royal Commission identified gaps in current laws that have allowed unethical and questionable practices to go undetected and unpunished. This is why we need strong laws that mandate transparency and an effective independent regulator to ensure everyone is held accountable.

Only the Turnbull Coalition Government will act in the national interest to ensure that fairness, transparency and the rule of law apply in all Australian workplaces.