News & Views

30th November 2016

Australia's Electrical Contractors call for the return of the ABCC

30 Nov 2016

Australia’s Electrical Contracting sector has once again urged the Senate to pass legislation to re-establish the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC). The Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Bill 2013 containing legislation to re-establish the ABCC was one of the triggers for July’s double dissolution election.

“The National Electrical and Communications Association (NECA) has always been a strong, long term advocate for Building and Construction sector reform and we have strenuously argued that this legislation, along with the passage of the Registered Organisations Act, will deliver benefits for Australia’s electrical contractors,” said NECA CEO Suresh Manickam.

“Since the abolition of the ABCC in 2012, we have seen industrial disputes rise by 40%. These disputes have a negative impact on electrical contracting businesses which then lose significant revenue through industrial stoppages. Ultimately, this means that the Australian taxpayer pays more for the delivery of critical public infrastructure.”

“With 113 officials from one union currently before the courts, it is clear that the fines handed out are not curbing unlawful behaviour. Every Australian ultimately pays a higher price for this culture of lawlessness through the construction of more expensive roads, hospitals and schools,” said Mr Manickam.

“There are countless examples in the public domain that supports the return of the ABCC. One only has to look at the testimony from the Trade Union Royal Commission, or the examples arising from the Commonwealth Games construction site, court cases and elsewhere highlighting a complete disregard for the rule of law, workplace safety breaches and a culture of bullying, violence and intimidation on building sites across the country.”

“When previously in operation up, until 2012, the ABCC had a strong track record of enforcing the law and dealt swiftly to investigate and penalise those who broke the law, whilst industrial disputes significantly decreased and productivity increased. NECA expects to see a return to an efficient and productive construction sector where costs and disputes are reduced, the Rule of Law is upheld and the culture of bullying and intimidation is replaced with one of co-operation and cohesion,” Mr Manickam said.

“NECA calls upon Senators to make a decision in favour of Australia’s SME electrical contracting businesses - many of whom are counting on the return of the industry watchdog to ensure certainty and stability for their long-term futures.”  


Media enquiries and interviews

Barry Jackson – National Marketing and Communications

D 02 9962 6904

M 0457 767 328

Andrew Jefferies – National Policy and Submissions

D 02 9962 6903

M 0458 726 355

Notes for editors

  1. NECA is the peak industry body representing the interests of electrical and communications contractors Australia-wide.
  2. NECA is run by electrical contractors, for electrical contractors.
  3. We have 5,000 contracting companies as members – and they in turn employ over 50,000 people Australia-wide.
  4. NECA employs almost 350 people across its seven chapters (Queensland, New South Wales, ACT, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia).
  5. The chapters provide NECA members with a range of services including: Industrial Relations, Health & Safety, Legal, Technical, Training, business-support services, product discounts and advocacy representation in Canberra with Government, Industry bodies and Training bodies.
  6. NECA wholly-owns its RTOs and GTOs in NSW, VIC & WA, the EcoSmart Electricians initiative and ACRS – one of the national cabling registrars, and has a joint venture with a superannuation company in NSW (NESS Super).
  7. NECA also employ around 2,000 apprentice electricians and provides training to a further 2,000.
  8. For further information go to

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