History of QMCA
The Early Years
Australia-wide, major contractors had formed and used the nationally organised AFCC (Australian Federation of Construction Contractors) as their industry body until 1993 when, as a result of some issues in other States, it was decided to disband the AFCC.
During this time, Owen Rankin, Queensland State Director and Mike Coonan, Queensland Director of Industrial Relations and Australian Director of Civil Engineering, managed the association from offices in Expo House at South Bank. This office was disbanded in early 1994 with Mike Coonan staying onboard for a short period during the transition.
Ric Barton, Queensland Manager for John Holland Construction, saw that, nonetheless, there was a definite need for major contractors in Queensland to have a common forum and a body which could represent the interests of the industry.
As a result, Ric revived a pre-existing Queensland registered employer organisation, the AFCEC (Australian Federation of Civil Engineering Contractors), which had retained its registration whilst otherwise resting dormant during the era of the AFCC. He sought the support of the managers of other major construction companies in Queensland and in 1994 the AFCEC was brought back to full operational life.
Retaining its old name, the AFCEC sought to represent all the interests of the major contractors in Queensland as the AFCC had done. At this time, multi-discipline engineering work was experiencing a significant lull and building was well serviced by the QMBA, so inevitably civil engineering issues tended to dominate the organisation’s attention.
Interestingly, the interstate head offices of some of the majors were not enamoured with the idea of this Queensland-based contractor organisation, and thus membership was initially an informal arrangement whilst credibility and industry acceptance grew.
The initial executive was:
- Ric Barton, President, John Holland Construction
- Ian Harrington, Vice President, Abigroup Contractors
- Graham Fitzsimmons, Secretary, Concrete Constructions
- Terry Cogill, Treasurer, Bielby
- Peter Lyons, Board Member, Thiess
- John Seymour, Board Member, Seymour Whyte
We had approximately 12 member companies within a year of restarting, including:
- Barclay Mowlem
- Baulderstone Hornibrook
- Concrete Constructions
- Civil & Civic
- John Holland
- LTA Doval
- Roche Bros
- Seymour Whyte
The executive met every two months, initially in Thiess’ offices, where activities, and work commenced.
Over the next few years, a number of significant issues were addressed, including:
- Lobbying to MRD re format contracts.
- Transferring industry body representation, previously held by the AFCC, to the revived AFCEC, which included such things as identifying and appointing employer representatives on the Board of the Industry superannuation fund, and Building Industry Redundancy Fund.
- Lobbying Main Roads which resulted in a “training allowance” included in the cost of all the contracts in the Brisbane to Gold Coast Motorway. This was a significant achievement and provided the core funds to increase skill-based training in south-east Queensland.
- Improving industry understanding and effective use of “Enterprise Agreements”.
- Modifying the civil pay scales to allow a career structure for all wages personnel based on skills.
- In conjunction with an industry training group and in response the new pay scales we were instrumental in developing the core skills assessment and skills record and training modules for all civil construction workers. This was regarded as a major achievement.
To reduce the isolation of construction teams and allow a social setting the AFCEC met every three months at such venues as the Brisbane Lions Club and the Greek Club, where dinner meetings were convened with guest speakers from various areas of the industry giving presentations.
An annual golf day was also held at Royal Queensland Golf Club where members and their guests enjoyed a great day’s golf with monies raised going to various charities.
The AFCECV Board worked diligently to establish the credibility of AFCEC within the industry and acceptance as a major employer organisation by contractors, clients and unions alike and successfully had fully taken-over the position previously occupied in Queensland by the nationally-based AFCC.
In 1996, The Board realised that with the growth of industrialisation and resulting multi-discipline projects that the time had come for AFCEC to change its name to the QMCA (Queensland Major Contractors Association) and incorporate contractors who delivered structural, mechanical and process projects as well as the traditional civil projects A new logo was designed, the name was changed, and a new era for the organisation commenced.
This was carried out at great fanfare at a black-tie dinner where the new badging of QMCA was presented to over 300 guests. This event went on to be held annually.
In 2001 at the annual dinner, QMCA and Freehills sponsored the Queensland Safety Award was introduced as part of highlighting the industry commitment to safety. The initial winner was Leighton Contractors for the Inner City Bypass project for client Brisbane City Council. Subsequently, the organisation strongly encouraged the formation of The Safety Managers and Officers of Queensland Incorporated.
The QMCA has flourished in the ensuing years to become a major industry organisation supporting its many members.