In a welcome and long-awaited development, the Senate last night passed the Registered Organisations Bill by a margin of 33 votes in favour to 30 against. This followed agreed amendments put forward by Nick Xenophon and Derryn Hinch, to increase protection for whistleblowers and accountability for auditors.
The effect of the Bill will be to ensure that officials from registered organisations, such as the CFMEU, will be subject to similar standards as company directors under Corporations law. This will include more thorough reporting and disclosure – and importantly the introduction of criminal offences for those who commit serious breaches. This is a significant step towards restoring the rule of law in the construction industry, ensuring bigger penalties for those who consistently disregard their legal obligations.
Members will recall that the Registered Organisations Bill, along with the ABCC Bill, was the trigger for the July double dissolution federal election. The successful passage of the Registered Organisation Bill through the Senate is therefore an important legislative reform, and gives renewed optimism for the likelihood of the passage of the ABCC Bill within the remaining two sitting weeks of 2016. The ABCC Bill remains the priority for the building industry, as it would re-establish the ABCC and give effect to the proposed Building Code 2014.
With certainty on the proposed Building Code 2014 likely to occur in the near term, Master Builders continues to advise members of the attendant risk of signing onto enterprise agreements such as the new CFMEU Pattern EBA, which are not compliant with Building Code 2014.
Master Builders also reminds members holding the extant Industry EBA 2011-2015 (and who entered into it prior to 24 April 2014) that they remain compliant with both the current Building Code 2013 and the proposed Building Code 2014.
Members seeking further information are encouraged to contact the IR Department on (03) 9411 4560.