Construction industry watchdog loses its teeth

The Australian Building and Construction Commission will have its powers stripped back today by the new federal Labor government with legislation later this year set to dump the construction industry overseer altogether.

The on-off-on again federal Coalition’s watchdog was originally set up by the Howard government in 2005, shut down by the Gillard Labor government in 2012, with an attempt to revive it by the Coalition’s Abbott government in 2015, and then restored by the Turnbull government a year later.

Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke said some of the ABCC’s actions should never have been carried out by an official government regulator, which he described as being more concerned with pursuing and punishing workers than tackling compromised safety standards and wage theft.

“Some of the things that the ABCC’s been doing, which I just think have been ridiculous rules, are gone all together,” he said.

“We will no longer be spending taxpayers’ money determining what sticker someone’s allowed to put on their helmet, whether or not a safety sign has to be pulled down because it’s got a union logon in the bottom corner, or what flag might be flying at a building site.”

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) Secretary Sally McManus said the ABCC’s building code was “onerous and nonsensical” while the Master Builders Association was sceptical about the future, saying the government has not yet released details of the regulatory framework that will replace it.

Image: Queens Wharf Brisbane project. Source:

About the author

Desi Corbett

Desi is the Editor of Concrete in Australia and at the helm of our magazine for 8 years. She was behind the Institute's weekly news bulletins from 2016-2021 and is now writing our focused news items. Desi has been an engineering news and features journalist/editor across all disciplines since 2013 - part of a 30-year career writing for a wide range of industries.