A veteran AFL umpire has been appointed as the new head of the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) to replace Nigel Hadkiss, who resigned in September 2017, after admitting he breached the Fair Work Act.

Hadkiss resigned a day after telling the then employment minister Michaelia Cash he had breached Fair Work laws between January 2014 and July2016, misrepresenting union rights on ABCC posters and in handbooks. 

Stephen McBurney will now begin a five-year term as commissioner from February 6. He previously served as an assistant commissioner (legal) for the ABCC from 2006 to 2008 and spent the last nine years investigating organised crime for the Victorian Office of Chief Examiner. 

Federal workplace and deregulation minister Craig Laundy said that McBurney had been appointed "following a merit-based selection process". 

"He has a proven track record as a former legal assistant commissioner at the ABCC, where he had responsibility for compliance powers," Laundy adds.

"In addition to his outstanding legal career, Mr McBurney was one of the AFL's most experienced and highly regarded umpires, one of four umpires to reach the 400-game milestone and umpiring four grand finals. 

"The building industry is a vital sector of Australia's economy, employing more than one million Australians. 

"The ABCC plays a critical role in maintaining the rule of law and promoting improved workplace relations to ensure building work is carried our fairly, productively and for the benefit of all."