Slap on the wrist for Queensland subbies shows ABCC’s failure

Published: 18 May 2021

A one-month ban on tendering for government work issued to one Queensland construction company and a formal warning issued to another that went into receivership after failing to pay subcontractors reveals just how toothless the Federal Government's building “watchdog” is when it comes to holding employers to account.

"These penalties are empty symbolism that do nothing to address worker safety or ensure security of payments and show the ABCC is a failed regulator that is asleep at the wheel on the big issues in the industry," said Dave Noonan, CFMEU National Construction Secretary.

"A one-month ban on tendering for government work is an exercise in futility." 

"The sanction against MCP (AUS) Pty Ltd, comes after a mobile concrete pump truck toppled on the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing project, which was notorious for a string of significant safety issues which put workers at risk including multiple truck, crane and trailer rollovers during 2017 and 2018.”

“The ABCC has not taken action against the head contractor Nexus, a consortium of the massive multinational companies Acciona and Ferrovial, which did the haul roads and hard stands on the cheap using dry compaction leading to more than 20 heavy vehicle rollovers by mid-2018.”

"The CFMEU was highly critical of the Queensland government’s decision to accept a low-ball price from Nexus for the project which was always going to result in corners being cut on safety and workers being put at risk.”

“The ABCC's crowing about the successful prosecution of one subcontractor by the Queensland safety regulator while saying and doing nothing to hold Nexus to account for the host of failings on the project is typical of a regulator that is broken by design.”

“The other builder sanctioned, i2 Solutions, was issued a formal warning by IR Minister Michaelia Cash over late or withheld payments on the M4 Smart Motorway project in NSW and the Logan Enhancement Project in Queensland.”

“i2 Solutions went into receivership in 2020 owing money to subbies and having failed to make on-time payments of more than $1 million.”

“It is telling that the ABCC is now congratulating themselves for a slap on the wrist handed out to a subcontractor that has already gone broke while doing nothing to ensure subbies who are out of pocket are paid the money they are owed."

“Anyone who thinks these pointless penalties being celebrated by the ABCC will do anything to stop workers being put at risk or to address security of payments is kidding themselves. The ABCC continually reveals itself to be unfit for purpose and incapable of addressing the real issues faced by workers in the construction industry."