Bill Shorten and the Australian Labor Party have failed a building industry scorecard for federal election policies.

Master Builders Australia (MBA) has released its assessment of major party policies according to sixteen criteria centring around workplace and employment law, housing and infrastructure, small business support and skills and training.

It found that the Coalition was ahead across almost every area.

All up, the Coalition received 17 ticks and only two crosses.

This included ‘double ticks’ in areas of building regulations, recognising the role of industry-based not-for-profit RTOs and employer funding for apprentices.

The only negatives centre around what Master Builders says are failures to avoid introducing unnecessary red tape on small business and to reduce small business compliance costs.

By contrast, Labor scored just eight ticks and had nine crosses against it.

Whilst Master Builders recognised the ALP’s commitment to training, it marked the party down on workplace laws.

It is particularly concerned about Labor’s plans to abolish the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) and to hand responsibility for workplace relations in the building sector back to the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Labor argues that such a move will ensure that building workers are given similar treatment to employees in other sectors.
Master Builders, however, fears the ABCC’s removal will lead to more illegal union behaviour.

In addition, MBA is concerned about what it sees as weak Labor policies on union right of entry laws as well as workplace laws which it feels are not fair and balanced.

Master Builders is also critical of Labor’s approach to small business.

Labor scores a double cross for what is seen as a failure to avoid unnecessary new regulation.

Of course, the scorecard should be read with caution.

As with all industry groups, Master Builders represents the interests of its members (construction contractors, subcontractors and suppliers), and is undertaking its analysis from that perspective.

Assessments from other stakeholder groups such as consumers, unions/employees or the environment would yield different outcomes.

As well, the scorecard does not consider other issues of broader industry concern.

These include phoenixing, non-conforming products and support for Building Information Modelling.

Master Builders Australia chief executive officer Denita Wawn said the scorecard represents a grading of major party policies against concerns of Master Builders’ members.

She said the sector’s importance should not be underestimated.

“Every day, in every community there are builders driving the economic growth that is needed for a stronger economy,” Warn said.

“Our members provide the most full time jobs in this country, their $220 billion industry is the nation’s second largest and they deserve to be heard.”

“The efforts of our members are essential for a stronger economy, to boost living standards provide the critical infrastructure to and the other things that our community needs.

“The next Federal Government (should) back the building and construction with policies that will support its success.”