{{ propApi.closeIcon }}
Our industry
Our industry $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Economic research & forecasting Economics Housing outlook Tailored market research Economic reports & data Inspiring Australia's building professionals Business & digital Products & innovation Projects HOUSING Online The only place to get your industry news Media releases Member alerts Submissions See all
Business support
Business support $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Become an apprentice host Hire an apprentice Why host a HIA apprentice? Apprentice partner program Builder & manufacturer program Industry insurance Construction legal expenses insurance Construction works insurance Home warranty insurance Tradies & tool insurance Planning & safety solutions Building & planning services How can safety solutions help you? Independent site inspections Solutions for your business Contracts Online HIA Tradepass HIA SafeScan Advertise jobs Trusted support & guidance Contracts & compliance support Professional services Industrial relations Member savings Toyota vehicles Fuel savings Handy pay See all
Resources & advice
Resources & advice $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Building it right Building codes Australian standards Getting it right on site See all Building materials & products Concrete, bricks & walls Getting products approved Use the right products for the job See all Managing your business Dealing with contracts Handling disputes Managing your employees See all Managing your safety Falls from heights Safety rules Working with silica See all Building your business Growing your business Maintaining your business See all Other subjects COVID-19 Getting approval to build Sustainable homes See all
Careers & learning
Careers & learning $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
A rewarding career Become an apprentice Apprenticeships on offer Frequently asked questions Study with us Find a course to suit you Qualification courses Learning on demand A job in the industry Get your builder's licence Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Find jobs
HIA community
HIA community $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Join HIA Sign me up How do I become a member? What's in it for me? Mates rates Get involved Become an award judge Join a committee Partner with us Our initiatives GreenSmart Kitchen, bathroom and design hub Get to know us Our members Our people Our partners Support for you Charitable Foundation Mental health program
Awards & events
Awards & events $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Awards Awards program People & Business Awards GreenSmart Australian Housing Awards Awards winners Regional Award winners Australian Housing Award winners 2023 Australian Home of the Year Enter online Industry events Events in the next month Economic outlook National Conference Events calendar
HIA products
HIA products $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Shop @ HIA Digital Australian Standards Contracts Online Shipping & delivery Purchasing T&Cs See all Products Purchase NCC 2022 Building codes & standards Economic reports Hard copy contracts Guides & manuals
About Contact Newsroom
$vuetify.icons.faMapMarker Set my location Use the field below to update your location
Change location
{{propApi.text}} {{region}} Change location
{{propApi.successMessage}} {{region}} Change location

$vuetify.icons.faPhone1300 650 620

Enforcement of industrial relations laws in the building and construction industry

This policy gives an overview of HIA's position with respect to lawlessness and intimidation in the construction industry and the role of the ABCC.

HIA’s Position Statement

  1. The building industry needs an effective deterrent and enforcer of the rule of law.
  2. HIA supports a stand-alone specialist statutory agency for the building industry. The construction industry requires access to an independent body, which is able to quickly and effectively respond to unlawful activity on site.

  3. Powers and Functions of a Building Industry Specific Regulator

  4. The primary function of the Regulator is to police industrial lawlessness in the construction industry. HIA opposes any attempts to divert or redirect resources away from this primary function.
  5. HIA supports the Regulator’s ability to enforce the rule of law by the use of coercive information gathering powers including the provision of information, production of documents and attendance to answer questions in order to carry out effective investigations into unlawful behaviour.
  6. The Regulator’s compliance powers should be supported by serious industry specific penalty provisions to adequately deter unlawful and inappropriate behaviour from occurring or recurring.
  7. The powers of the Regulator should be extended to off-site manufacture, detached housing sites and the residential building sector.

  8. Role of the Commonwealth

  9. HIA supports the use of the Commonwealth’s purchasing power including the Commonwealth Building Code to promote genuine industry reform and unravel unproductive and anti-independent contracting pattern bargaining agreements.


  • A litany of royal commissions, inquiries and Federal Court decisions have continually highlighted a persistent and pervasive culture of industrial lawlessness in the commercial construction industry, particularly in relation to the conduct of the construction union.
  • In 2005 the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) was set up as a specialist construction industry enforcement body. It followed the Cole Royal Commission and held a number of coercive powers, supported by industry specific fines and penalties.
  • In 2012 the government abolished the ABCC, replacing it with a division of the Fair Work Ombudsman, being the Fair Work Building and Construction. 
  • The ABCC was re-established as the specialist enforcement body in 2016 with the introduction of a new national building code and the reinstatement of the powers held by the agency in 2005. 
  • The enforcement of industrial relations laws in the building and construction industry is a polarising issue.
  • The debate over the role of a federal regulatory, such as the ABCC, industry lawlessness and union corruption continues to be robust, politicised and emotive.
  • Systemic lawlessness, including illegal strikes, pattern bargaining, right of entry infringements and coercion of non-unionised contractors and workers is an ongoing issue in the building industry.
  • Any agency tasked with the enforcement of industrial relations laws in the building and construction industry should be able to act without fear or favour against both unions and employers alike and must be able to investigate allegations of lawlessness, harassment and corruption, despite any threats of retribution. 
  • There is a case for a stand-alone specialist statutory agency for the building industry, for example evidence provided by Independent Economics showed that during the Fair Work Building Commission era there were significant losses in productivity and that consumers were better off by $7.5 billion on an annual basis if the ABCC was reinstated with its initial powers.  
  • There is consensus amongst employer groups that a stand-alone specialist statutory agency can help clean up much of the lawlessness in the building industry.

Policy endorsed by HIA National Policy Congress: May 2014; Re-endorsed with amendments 2019


Share with your network:
More articles on:
{{ tag.label }} {{ tag.label }} $vuetify.icons.faTimes
Find the latest expert advice, guides and much more!
HIA Advocacy
View all $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
22 Feb
Inquiry into the Help to Buy Bill and Help to Buy Consequential Provisions Bill 2023

HIA provided a submission into the Help to Buy Bill 2023 and the Help to Buy (Consequential Provisions) Bill 2023, herein referred to as the Help to Buy Bills.

22 Feb
2024-2025 Northern Territory Pre-Budget Submission

HIA submitted the Northern Territory pre-budget submission to the NT Chief Minister.

21 Feb
Future of local government review

On 20 January 2024 HIA made a submission to the Tasmanian Government on the Future of Local Government Final Report.

20 Feb
Proposed amendments to the Directors Determinations on bushfire hazard areas

On 19 January 2024 HIA made a submission to the Tasmanian Government on proposed amendments to the Director's Determinations on bushfire hazard areas.

09 Feb
Senate Inquiry into Superannuation Objective Bill 2023

HIA provided a submission for the Inquiry into the Superannuation (Objective) Bill 2023.

08 Feb
Climate-related financial disclosure legislation exposure draft

HIA submitted a response on the Climate-related Financial Disclosure legislation following the release of the exposure draft.