“The abolition by the Victorian Government of the Victorian Construction Code, Implementation Guidelines and regulator is very disappointing as they were playing a vital role in protecting employers and the community from unlawful, unacceptable and unproductive practices on construction sites,” Ai Group Chief Executive, Innes Willox, said today.

“This development in Victoria increases the urgency for the Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Bill to be passed by the Senate.  The Bill would restore similar arrangements to those which were successfully in place between 2005 and 2009, when a strong regulator (the Australian Building and Construction Commissioner), a strong Code and appropriate penalties for non-compliance were in place.  During this period the construction industry had never been a better place to work and invest, and the rule of law prevailed.

“The watering down from 2009 of the powers of the federal construction industry regulator, the absence of an effective federal construction code and a huge reduction in penalties has led to the unacceptable practices of the past returning to construction sites.  The state codes in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland have reduced somewhat the damaging effects of the watering down, but the abolition of the Victorian Code will now embolden unions.

“There are a number of major industry-wide pattern agreements that are currently being negotiated and federal and state codes play a critical role in preventing a raft of unproductive provisions being included in these agreements and implemented across the construction industry at great cost to the community. Experience has shown that employers will not concede damaging enterprise agreement clauses or implement unproductive site practices if they are locked out of Government construction work as a consequence.

“The maintenance of strong construction industry Codes was a key recommendation of the Cole Royal Commission into the Building and Construction Industry, the Gyles Royal Commission in New South Wales, and the recent Productivity Commission inquiry into Public Infrastructure.

“Employers, employees, independent contractors and the community need to be protected from unlawful and inappropriate union conduct.  This conduct results in higher construction costs which of course reduce the ability of Federal and State Governments to deliver vital community infrastructure.

“Every Senator needs to support the passage of the Bill which is so obviously in the public interest.  The Bill has been the subject of two Senate inquiries and it now needs to be passed without any further delays,” Mr Willox said.