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Wednesday, 15 February 2017
Page: 912


Senator CASH (Western AustraliaMinister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service, Minister for Employment and Minister for Women) (09:34): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows—

Today I introduce the Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Amendment Bill 2017.

The building and construction industry is a vital sector of the Australian economy. Ensuring an efficient, safe and law-abiding building and construction industry is crucial to promoting jobs, driving economic growth and managing the transition to a more diversified economy.

This is why the Government last year re-established the Australian Building and Construction Commission to ensure building work is carried out fairly, efficiently, lawfully and safely for the benefit of all Australians.

A crucial factor to drive reform and boost productivity is the content requirements for enterprise agreements contained in the Codefor the Tendering and Performance of Building Work 2016.

This is achieved by prohibiting restrictive clauses in enterprise agreements that limit the ability of a contractor to manage its business or improve productivity, as well as those that give unions disproportionate power on building sites.

This Bill amends the expiry of transitional 'grace period' from 28 November 2018 to 31 August 2017, for enterprise agreements made before the Building Code commenced on 2 December 2016. While new enterprise agreements made after 2 December 2016 must comply with the Code, building industry participants covered by existing enterprise agreements will have until 31 August 2017 to ensure their agreements are Code-compliant.

The Bill also limits the exemption to building industry participants submitting expressions of interest and tendering for Commonwealth-funded building work. This means enterprise agreements will need to comply with the Building Code before contracts are awarded and work gets underway.

Finally, the Bill makes appropriate transitional arrangements for those who have submitted an expression of interest or tendered for relevant building work from 2 December 2016 until the Bill's commencement to ensure they remain eligible to be awarded that building work until 28 November 2018. For the avoidance of doubt, if a building industry participant submitted an expression of interest or tendered for building work on or after 2 December 2016 and was awarded that work before the commencement of Schedule 1 of the Bill, the building industry participant is entitled to undertake, or continue to undertake, that work after the commencement of Schedule 1.

The Bill does not introduce any new requirements.

These amendments will ensure key provisions of the Building Code that seek to improve productivity and reduce costs will be achieved in a more timely fashion.

In turn, this will create the conditions needed to fund the construction of more schools, hospitals and other important social infrastructure, at a price we can afford.