Release type: Media Release


Transition to Fair Work Australia for building and construction industry

The Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Julia Gillard today attended the Australian Building and Construction Commission’s Industry Consultative Forum.

It is the first time since 2006 that the Forum has been attended by all industry participants.

The Rudd Labor Government is committed to ensuring that all participants in the building and construction industry comply with the Australia’s workplace relations laws to the letter.

The Rudd Government has no tolerance for behaviour that breaks the law whether it be unlawful industrial action or underpayment of employees.

It is the intention of the Rudd Labor Government to always have a tough cop on the beat in the building and construction industry.

The Rudd Labor Government will deliver on its pre-election commitment to retain the Australian Building and Construction Commission until 31 January 2010 and to replace it at that time with a specialist building and construction division of the inspectorate of Fair Work Australia (‘the Specialist Division’).

Consistent with our commitments last year, we will shortly commence a process of extensive consultation with industry stakeholders about ensuring that the transition to those new arrangements will be orderly, effective and robust.

This will involve a process of consultation and report which will be conducted by the Honourable Murray Wilcox QC, a former Australian Federal Court judge.

As announced at the Forum, it is the Government’s intention to seek feedback on the terms of reference to be issued to the Honourable Murray Wilcox QC.

Subject to feedback received on the terms of reference, the Government will ask his Honour to consult and report on all matters related to the creation of the Specialist Division including but not limited to:

  • The operational structure of the Specialist Division and its relationship with other parts of Fair Work Australia;
  • The independence and accountability of the Specialist Division;
  • The need, if any, for external monitoring, review or oversight of the Specialist Division;
  • The scope of investigations and compliance activities to be undertaken by the Specialist Division;
  • The powers required by the Specialist Division and its inspectors for the purpose of conducting investigations and compliance activities;
  • The rights of persons who are subject to the investigations and compliance activities of the Specialist Division;
  • The responsibilities of the officers of the Specialist Division;
  • The reporting requirements of the Specialist Division;
  • The resolution of disputes and complaints about the activities of the Specialist Division;
  • The use of information collected by the Specialist Division in its investigations;
  • The commencement of proceedings by the Specialist Division;
  • The interaction of the Specialist Division with other federal enforcement agencies such as the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, the Australian Taxation Office, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and with relevant State enforcement agencies;
  • The likely resources to be required by the Specialist Division and the ways of ensuring those resources are efficiently and effectively allocated;
  • The best ways of ensuring high quality personnel are recruited to and retained by the Specialist Division and are properly trained and supervised; and
  • The best manner of ensuring an orderly transition between the ABCC and the Specialist Division.

The terms of reference will be finalised by the end of June. His Honour will commence work after that.

In order to properly undertake this task, the Government has asked his Honour to consult with all industry stakeholders about their views on the best arrangements for the operation of the Specialist Division. His Honour will seek and consider public submissions on the finalised terms of reference.

Consistent with the balanced and measured approach the Rudd Labor Government has taken to the development of new workplace relations laws generally, it is the intention of the Government to give his Honour a sufficient period of time to fully and comprehensively consult and consider the matters on which he is asked to report.

The Government has therefore asked his Honour to report by the end of March next year.