The building and construction industry places a high priority on a safe and productive workplace relations environment. Harmonious, safe and productive workplaces are vital for a strong building and construction industry, a thriving economy and more job opportunities for all Australians.

We are a growing industry and will need even more workers the next decade, however current workplace laws discourage many from hiring and training more apprentices. This is why we are committed to delivering safe and productive workplaces. We want workers to be safe and for our workplaces to be like those in other industries. 

But the sad fact is that building and construction has suffered from the decades old approach of building unions who believe that the law doesn't apply to them and deploy a business model based on bullying people into doing what they want. 

Master Builders Australia believes unions are important but they have to play by the rules like everyone else. Until they can show an ability to do the right thing, we need the ABCC to protect workers and uphold the laws just like workplaces in other industries seem to be able to do. Without the ABCC, the cost of construction will be around 30 per cent higher, meaning the community pays more the things they need through higher taxes and delayed projects. 

Safe and more productive workplaces can be achieved without adding to the existing level of complexity and compliance. A common sense practical approach is needed. The focus must be on the quality, rather than the quantity, of legislation and regulation. 

The focus must also be on education and awareness, injury prevention, and the practical and achievable management of foreseeable risk, not just paper based compliance. 

Retain the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) To Protect Workers and Stop the Bullying

The ABCC protects workers and stops union bullying by enforcing special rules designed to fix the ingrained and toxic culture embraced by construction unions. The next Federal Government must: 

  • Retain the ABCC and commit to ensuring it will be kept until construction unions have shown they can play by the rules just like normal unions do and building sites are operating like normal workplaces. 

Adopt Fair & Balanced Workplace Laws

It's important that we have a safety net of minimum conditions for workers enshrined in law. But these must be balanced so that workers and employers have equal rights, encourage job creation, and are clear and simple to understand. 

The next Federal Government must: 

  • Avoid unnecessary restrictions on the way people work, including the right to be an independent contractor and for employers to implement work arrangements that suit their needs - not the needs and unreasonable demands of unions. 
  • Commit to preserving freedom of association laws and promising to say no to anything that gives unions more say or more rights than workers, and make sure that Right of Entry rules are strengthened and properly enforced. 
  • Recognising the needs of small businesses and encourage them to take on new workers. 
  • Improve bargaining laws to better help workers and employers to quickly and effectively put in place arrangements without ineffective red-tape and lengthy delays. 
  • Ensure that organisations of employers and employees are transparent and accountable and play by the rules. 

Ensure Safety Laws Drive Better Safety Outcomes

Safety laws must be focussed on delivering real improvements in safety, avoiding unnecessary 'tick a box' paper-based compliance approaches  and are not used as a back-door for unions. The next Federal Government must: 

  • Recognise safety as a shared responsibility for everyone in the workplace, and that everyone has an important role to play in being safe on site. 
  • Uphold the principle that prevention is better than cure by focussing on stopping injuries and accidents before they happen. Reject measures that will not improve safety outcomes but will take the system backwards such as industrial manslaughter. 
  • Stop the growing creep the blurs the line between industrial relations and safety law. 

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