The building and construction industry is vital to our national economy, so we all pay a big price when there is industrial lawlessness on worksites.
Bullying and gross misconduct have been allowed to flourish in the building and construction sector. The Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption documented the extent of the problem, leading to 93 referrals to authorities, more than half relating to potential criminal activity.
Left unchecked, industrial lawlessness results in delayed projects, lost production time, higher costs, less efficient spending of tax dollars and reduced job opportunities. Research shows that impunity on construction sites drives up the cost of building schools, hospitals and childcare centres by as much as 30 per cent.
From 2005 to 2012 the Australian Building and Construction Commission was effective in improving the performance of the sector. The growth in productivity in the construction industry outpaced the average across the economy, and the rate of industrial disputes was brought down (ABS data).
Bringing back the ABCC, and making sure it has the power to impose strong civil penalties for illegal behaviour, will help to restore integrity to the sector. And once it is in place, government needs to give it resources and support to get on with the job.