The federal government is willing to make amendments to pass its bill to reintroduce a tougher building industry watchdog, Malcolm Turnbull has suggested, according to The Guardian.
Speaking at a work site in Canberra on Wednesday, Turnbull said he would negotiate with crossbench senators to pass the Australian Building and Construction Commission bill, which triggered the 2 July double-dissolution election, The Guardian reported.
“The nature of negotiations is proposals are made, discussions are had, compromises sometimes are achieved,” he said, according to The Guardian.
The ABCC is a watchdog for construction unions with compulsory investigation powers and the authority to clamp down on unlawful pickets.
According to The Australian, the government is willing to consider changes including an eight-year sunset clause for the bill and keeping the current requirement for the building regulator to apply to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal before compelling workers or other witnesses to give evidence.
Lincoln Easton, a former nine-year construction company CFO and founder of
Progressclaim.com, a construction payments software startup, believes that the watchdog’s return isn’t necessary because in the environment of intense competition, shrinking margins and increasing rates of disputes – builders (such as Mirvac, Icon, Grocon) are self-regulating by using technology solutions to minimise the risk of litigation and insolvency. Mr Easton issued the following statement:
“The Turnbull Government’s move to reintroduce the ABCC has yet again put a spotlight on the productivity and lack of technology innovation in the Australian construction sector. Since the ABCC was abolished, industrial disputes have increased by 34 per cent, leading to hold ups on the build. In fact, in 2015 alone, 44 per cent of lost working days were in the construction sector.
“The majority of arguments stem from a culture of non-payments, essentially fist-fights over who did or didn’t do what and who did or didn’t get paid. For too long the construction sector has been a laggard when it comes to technology, but we’re seeing companies like Mirvac, Icon, Grocon and others investing in software solutions and mobile apps to mitigate these risks and improve bottom line results.
“Turnbull wants an independent body to keep an eye on what he has labelled “dodgy” practices, leading to disputes, lost productivity and many businesses crumbling. However many in the sector, myself included, feel that regulation isn’t the answer and it’s up to the building industry to find its own solution, something many companies are already doing by embracing technology.
“We can’t fall back into old practices, and with so many innovative options already available to help solve problems, leaders in the building industry shouldn’t waste any time in addressing the outdated practices, manual pen and paper processes and fist-fight culture which is holding the sector back," said Mr Easton.