Jurisdiction - Australia
Australia – Recent Changes To The Industrial Relations Landscape.

4 December, 2013

Australia’s recently-elected coalition Government has begun implementing its pre-election policy relating to employment and workplace relations. Two bills released last week by the federal Government seek to increase regulation and accountability in the building and construction industry and within registered organisations.

1. The Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Amendment Bill provides for strengthened accounting and disclosure obligations on registered organisations (ie trade unions and employer organisations) and creates an independent watchdog, the Registered Organisations Commission, which has investigation and enforcement powers, to monitor and regulate registered organisations. Alongside the increased disclosure obligations, the Bill also increases civil penalties and introduces criminal offences for serious breaches of officers’ duties. This Bill is in response to various irregularities and frauds that have arisen within trade unions in recent years.

2. The Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Bill 2013 will fulfil the Coalition Government’s election promise to re-establish the Australian Building and Construction Commission (the ABCC) which regulated unlawful conduct on building sites from 2005 until 2010 when the former Labour Government reduced its powers significantly. The Bill restores the ABCC’s powers and functions but also imposes a new prohibition on unlawful picketing, provides for higher penalties to deter unlawful behaviour and extends the scope of its application to the building and construction supply-chain.


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For further information, please contact:


John Cooper, Partner, Herbert Smith Freehills
[email protected]


Melanie Smith, Herbert Smith Freehills 
[email protected] 

Ellen Williams, Herbert Smith Freehills 

[email protected]


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