Federal construction code will extend to non-government work, Andrews says

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Federal construction code will extend to non-government work, Andrews says

Construction industry contractors who want to work on Federal Government funded projects will soon have to follow the federal Code and Guidelines on all their construction work, whether federally-funded or not.

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Construction industry contractors who want to work on Federal Government funded projects will soon have to follow the federal Code and Guidelines on all their construction work, whether federally-funded or not. 

Kevin Andrews, the Workplace Relations Minister, told the Master Plumbers Association National Conference on the Gold Coast today that there have been three key changes to the Guidelines:  

  • Firstly, to require contractors wanting to undertake Australian Government funded construction work to comply with the Code and Guidelines on all of their domestic construction activities, whether they are Australian Government funded construction projects or not.  

  • Secondly, to require contractors to have Code-compliant workplace arrangements in place at the time they lodge an expression of interest or tender for Australian Government funded work. Unless both registered and unregistered agreements of contractors and subcontractors are Code compliant, they will not be considered for Government work from the outset.  

  • Finally, the changes strengthen the role of the Code Monitoring Group and clarify the sanctions regime.  

Effective 1 October 2005

Andrews said these changes will take effect from 1 October 2005, and will apply on all new directly and indirectly funded Commonwealth projects, but will only apply to those projects where an expression of interest or tender for Australian Government funded construction work is lodged on or after 1 October 2005.  

Indirectly funded projects will continue to operate under the Guidelines as they were at the time the funding agreement was signed, he said. 

However the Code and Guidelines will soon be overwhelmed by the Government’s forthcoming workplace relations legislation which will set up a national system.  

Only the first steps

‘These changes are only the first – and transitional - stage of measures aimed at ensuring adherence to the practices and behaviours promoted by the Guidelines,’ Andrews said. 

‘In the second stage the Government will set aside its reliance on the Guidelines and will instead allow the legislative provisions in the Building and Construction Industry Improvement Act (BCII) and broader workplace reforms to deliver the workplace relations outcomes previously sought through the Code and Guidelines.’  

Andrews said that once the Government’s workplace relations reforms take effect it is expected that the workplace relations elements of the Guidelines will be dispensed with.  

‘From the commencement of the second stage in 2006, contractors will either be in compliance with the law or they won’t, irrespective of whether or not they are engaged in Australian Government funded projects,’ he said.

Specific provisions

The code is also very specific on detail. Yesterday Andrews announced that John Lloyd would be the new Australian Building and Construction Commissioner at a press conference and was asked whether the building industry code has a prohibition on employers providing clothing to employees which has union logos on it. 

Andrews said there should not be ‘agitation around industrial issues and confrontation around industrial issues by having blaring and blazing sorts of pro-union activity on what ought to be in an environment in which people ought to be able to work together and work in a more peaceful and respectful way for each other’. 

‘We don’t think that this sort of activity aids that sort of outcome in the building construction industry,’ he said.

Andrews said the display of union logos and the like is ‘part and parcel of a culture of standing over people, a culture of corruption which exists in this industry’.   

‘So this can’t be taken just as something in isolation,’ he said. ‘It has to been looked at in the total culture of an industry whose behaviour standards are totally unacceptable.’ 

WA and Victoria - first two targets for enforcement

It was also revealed at the press conference that WA and Victoria would be the first two targets of the new Commission.

Lloyd told the press conference that those two States have the worst records in terms of industrial disputation and industrial action.   

‘I think it’s similarly reflected in occupational health and safety figures,’ he said.

‘So those two states I expect would be states which get a high priority in what we do and where we deploy our resources.’ 

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