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Watered down building laws fail to protect resource projects

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THE national employer body representing Australia’s mining and resources sector, the Australian Mines and Metals Association (AREEA) has raised significant concerns about changes to the building regulator laws and watering down of the accompanying code, at a time when the sector is managing billion dollar construction projects.

“The Bill flies in the face of comments in the Wilcox Report about the continuing level of industrial unlawfulness in the building and construction industry”, said AREEA’s Chief Executive, Steve Knott.

AREEA has submitted to the Senate enquiry on the Building and Construction Industry Improvement Amendment (Transition to Fair Work) Bill 2009 (the Bill) that its effect will be to significantly water down the capacity and effectiveness of the Building Industry Inspectorate in preventing unlawful conduct.

“The Bill neuters the building industry watchdog and reduces the capacity of its officers to act quickly, effectively and independently”, said Mr Knott.

According to AREEA the cultural change in the industry that the Building and Construction Industry Improvement Act was achieving now faces being a short term gain as the proposed laws provide little in the way of powers to the Building Industry Inspectorate to maintain its good work.

The further watering down of the National Code of Practice for the Construction Industry, which regulates union and employer behaviour on Commonwealth Government funded projects, will make it impossible for the taxpayer investment of $4.7 billion on Government infrastructure spending between now and 2010 to deliver value for money.

At the end of the day the effect of the Bill will be to disarm the tough cop and tie up the building industry watch dog in red tape; the last thing Australia needs as we attempt to move into a period of economic recovery.

AREEA will continue to meet with members of the Government over the coming weeks to raise concerns about the impact of the proposed laws in the resources sector.

Note: Appendix A of the AREEA submission sets out numerous instances of recent unlawful and inappropriate behaviour on construction sites.


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