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Coalition moving ahead with plans to reinstate Australian Building and Construction Commission in first sitting

Patrick Stafford /

The government has confirmed it will continue with its plans to re-establish the controversial Australian Building and Construction Commission, in yet another sign the Coalition is moving to rapidly implement several key election policies.

The Coalition had previously said it would restore the ABCC, with a report prepared by Liberal MPs showing it could be done within 100 days.

A spokesperson for Employment Minister Eric Abetz told SmartCompany this morning the plan is a priority, and the Coalition is committed to writing legislation in the first sitting week.

“This is a priority,” he said.

The industrial relations industry is mixed regarding the reintroduction of the ABCC. While some say it would be better to leave the industry’s authority to Fair Work, others believe the construction industry is so large it demands a body of its own.

Industrial relations lawyer Peter Vitale told SmartCompany this morning while it’s unhelpful to have so much “chopping and changing”, the reintroduction of a dedicated body could have benefits.

“The reality is that governments of both colours have recognised the need for a separate arm of government to deal with the building and construction industry,” he says.

“That being the case, it seems to me the most effective way to address an industry that requires that much attention is to have its own body.”

The government is considering several options contained within a report compiled by several Liberal MPs. Some include dividing up responsibilities between the ABCC and Fair Work, while others would include hiring police or ex-police.

The original ABCC attracted controversy for some decisions, and was ultimately disbanded by the Gillard government in 2012.

The new ABCC would be given several million dollars in order to reverse cuts made under the Labor government, Fairfax reports, while other changes include the possibility of reinstating powers of the old ABCC – such as requiring witnesses to give testimony.

The reintroduction of the ABCC sits alongside other Coalition workplace relations promises, including a pledge to change bargaining rules and allow more movement in flexibility agreements.

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Patrick Stafford

Patrick Stafford is a freelance journalist and a former deputy editor of SmartCompany.

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