The Brisbane Club
Member’s Review of Workplace Relations Group Lunch with guest speaker APM, Australian Building and Construction Commissioner, Nigel Hadgkiss.
Members, Elizabeth Addis, Stephanie Lewis and Lisa Myers’s review of the event below.
What enticed you to attend this event?
Elizabeth - I have been wanting to attend the Workplace Relations Lunch for business networking purposes and due to Theresa Moltoni being the host.
Stephanie - Working for Certica, a contractor management business in Brisbane, I attend the Workplace Lunches regularly. However, the opportunity to hear from and meet with Nigel Hadgkiss APM was a real draw card. With the re-establishment of the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) on 2 December 2016, I knew the subject would be topical and relevant for our business and most importantly our clients in the Building and Construction industry.
Lisa - I am a commercial dispute resolution and construction lawyer at a boutique firm, Scoglio Law. A number of our clients either work in or supply products to the construction industry and are impacted by the recent changes. The event was a great opportunity to hear directly from the Australian Building and Construction Commissioner so I can keep our clients up to date.
What was the highlight of the event in your opinion?
E - Nigel’s address gave a great insight into the role of the ABCC and how the building code will be enforced – an industry that I am not regularly exposed to. I also thought Theresa’s update on IR changes for the past month was a terrific summary for those in the audience who are not involved in the day to day IR process.
S - The highlight for me was the open Q&A at the conclusion of the presentation. Mr. Hadgkiss was transparent in his answers and provided practical advice to the audience on ways to communicate and work with the ABCC.
L- The Commissioner’s explanation of the new Building Code and the assistance the Commission is providing to enable construction industry participants to become code compliant was definitely the main highlight as it clarified quite a few of the misconceptions in the industry and will enable Scoglio Law to assist our clients in that regard.
Can you describe Nigel Hadgkiss PM, as a politician, speaker and entertainer in your own words?
S - Nigel Hadgkiss APM, provided the audience with practical and easy to understand advice. He offered a balanced view with regard to how the ABCC is working with both Unions and Employers and did not shy away from answering any audience questions. He was frank, transparent and not without a good sense of humour.
E - I appreciated that he was very direct in his comments and provided very interesting anecdotes for those in the audience who are not working within the building sector.
What were your thoughts on the issues discussed regarding legislative changes in the industry and how this will affect building industry participants?
S - It was refreshing to hear the facts in regard to the ABCC, rather than the maelstrom of propaganda being reported in the media. Of note, Mr. Hadgkiss highlighted that in no way does the ABCC attempt to diminish workers’ rights or to abolish any union movement. Rather that the ABCC exists to promote an improved workplace relations framework to ensure that building work is carried out fairly and productively for the benefit of all building industry participants, without distinction, and for the benefit of the Australian economy as a whole.
There was concern in the room with regard to the length of time taken to get Agreements approved by the ABCC, to which Mr. Hadgkiss provided practical tips to improve the approvals process. To his knowledge and to date at the event, he was not aware of any project being held up due to the approvals process.
L - There is a lot of uncertainty in the industry as to what the new Building Code means for particular construction companies. The Code applies to construction companies from the first time they submit an expression of interest and/or tender for Commonwealth-funded projects regardless of whether they’re successful. Once the Code applies then they have to remain compliant even on new privately funded projects. Our clients also often see us about security of payments disputes. The new code requires contractors to have documented dispute resolution processes to handle payment disputes with subcontractors. Contractors are also required to report delayed or disputed progress payments to the Commissioner and relevant funding entity as soon as practicable after the payment due date. These new requirements are aimed to assist subcontractors to get paid sooner and reduce the risk of insolvencies in the industry.
Did you learn anything new at the event?
E - Absolutely – a terrific beginners guide to the Building Code and the ABCC. Probably a little more information than I actually need!
S - I always do! Theresa Moltoni from IRIQ presents a 15 minute summary of Industrial Relations (IR) news at each month’s event and it’s the group’s very own version of Have you been paying attention? You were updated with the groups events for the month.
Meet a Convenor: Bruce Wallis - Golf Group