The existence of a body to regulate unions in the building sector has been a concern for a number of years.  After the Cole royal commission in 2003, the Howard Government established the Australian Building and Construction Commission to regulate this area.  This body was then abolished by the Gillard Government in 2012, and was replaced by Fair Work Building and Construction.  More recently, the Abbott, and later Turnbull Governments, moved to re-establish a watchdog for this sector, and, when its re-establishment met resistance, it became a trigger for a double dissolution by the Turnbull Government, which was returned to office and subsequently passed legislation to establish a new commission.

The Australian and Building Construction Commission, the current watchdog, was re-established by the Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Act 2016 (‘The Act’).  Its role is to enforce compliance with legislation such as the Fair Work Act 2009 and the Independent Contractors Act 2006 amongst others.  To do this, the Commission has a number of powers, including requiring a person to attend an examination to give answers, to provide information and produce documents.

It is an offence to not comply with an examination notice, such as by non-attendance or answer relevant questions, the penalty for which is six (6) months imprisonment.  Other powers of the authorised officers include entering a premises (without force), inspect work, interview any person, require a person to tell the officer who has custody, or access to, a record or document and can request the custodian to produce the document.  Under the Act, authorised officers may also copy and/or keep documents for as long as necessary. Authorised officers may also inspect or make copies of any record or document that is either on the premises or is accessible via computer from the premises.  Under some circumstances, authorised officers also have the power to require you to give your name and address.

Robertson O’Gorman regularly appear on behalf of individuals who face a commission of inquiry or investigation. Having an experienced lawyer protecting your rights and interests is vital.