A series of important announcements in response to an easing of the current COVID-19 (C-19) restrictions in place continue to be made at both a Federal Government and State level. 

During the last week, the CCF has continued to make representations on your behalf to ensure that the civil construction industry is well placed to play an important part in the social and economic recovery in this State. The following is a brief summary of announcements and activities undertaken over the last week.

Federal Government announces 3 step process for easing of restrictions.

Last Friday, announcements were made by the Prime Minister on the introduction of a 3 step roadmap for State & Territories to consider for adoption, to contain the spread of the C-19 virus as restrictions are eased over the coming months. The 3 step model is below for your reference with a more detailed reference available via the attached link Three Step Framework for a COVIDSAFE Australia.

As a State Government level, the Premier announced yesterday that more than 160,000 Victorians were tested for coronavirus over the last 2 week period and that there would be a “cautious easing” of restrictions over the coming weeks.

This included the addition of a 5th reason for to leave the home, ie: visiting friends and family – with a maximum gathering of up to ten outdoors and having up to five visitors in your home.  In addition, some changes to rules for some of the most significant gatherings in any of our lives including weddings (now be able to have 10 guests) and up to 20 people will be able to attend funerals held indoors, and up to 30 if they’re outdoors. More outdoor recreational activities will also be allowed including walking groups, fishing, hiking – and golf. These activities will be subject to physical distancing to help keep people safe.

These new restrictions and a renewed State of Emergency will be in place until 11:59 pm on Sunday 31 May. Further reviews will be conducted by the State Government as we go through May and depending on the situation and case numbers –hopefully, further announcements.

Building Victoria’s Recovery Task Force & Project Fast Track

The Victorian State Government has established the Building Victoria’s Recovery Taskforce, which will focus critical attention on overseeing the “fast- tracking” of planning approvals within Ministerial powers, identifying financial incentives and reviewing current revenue opportunities to help businesses survive and recover from the major disruption caused by the C-19 pandemic.

In a joint submission to the Taskforce last Friday, employer groups and unions expressed the importance of maintaining a sustainable pipeline of work and their concerns on matters such as cash flow for subcontractors, potential liquidated damages claims and disputes over meeting the costs of the current restrictions. In recommending a transition plan as part of easing of restrictions, the pro-active work being undertaken on building and construction sites to mitigate the spread of C-19 in the workplace places is duly recognised and acknowledged by Government. This included the establishment of Building & Construction Guidelines (version 3) and on-site testing being undertaken by Incolink / APS / CMS.

The following is a summary of COVID-19 testing undertaken over the last week and schedule of calls taken by the VBA Hotline (as at 7 May) are as follows:

As at 8 May, 1606 tests had been conducted through the Incolink testing program, with one borderline positive result. This is a fantastic effort by the Incolink/APC/CMS team who have significantly ramped up their resources to get to as many building and construction workers as possible.

See schedule of clinics and testing numbers below.

  Clinics Sites Tests
Wednesday, 29 April 20 1 1 19
Thursday, 30 April 20 2 2 102
Friday, 1 May 20 3 3 169
Monday, 4 May 20 4 4 364
Tuesday, 5 May 20 4 3 229
Wednesday, 6 May 20 4 4 322
Thursday, 7 May 20 3 3 285
Friday, 8 May 20 4 4 116
Total 25 24 1606

The State Government through the Recovery Taskforce is now seeking to fast track shovel-ready building and construction projects, through Project Fast Track. The attached assessment criteria and guidelines have been established on what projects are eligible for consideration. CCF members are invited to submit shovel-ready projects that meet this eligibility criteria and we encourage you to submit genuinely eligible projects for consideration by the Taskforce by completing the attached proposal form. 

For further information contact the DELWP Customer Service Centre on 136 186 or customer.service@delwp.vic.gov.au

Major Transport Infrastructure Authority (MTIA) – Ministerial COVID-19 Consultative Forum

A further meeting of the MTIA Ministerial COVID-19 Consultative Forum was conducted yesterday with Minister Jacinta Allan and MTIA Director General, Corey Hannett.

Following our initial meeting in late April, the group discussed the following key areas:

  • The Minister expanded in the Premier’s 11am Press Conference announcing a further easing of C-19 restrictions with due recognition for the work being undertaken in C-19 testing on construction sites. On MTIA sites – 585 tests C-19 tests were conducted since our last meeting (20 workers were sent home with mild symptoms).
  • Corey Hannett provided an update on current works with over 18,000 currently employed on MTIA projects with works progressing well on Metro Tunnel, LXRA and all major roads projects that have been announced. 
  • Future works programs include a number of significant rail projects with tenders out and also the North East Link project.
  • With regards to future works programs, I expressed concerns raised by CCF members regarding improving the line of sight and communications for forward works in the road sector with MRPV assuming responsibility for delivery of all major road projects in excess of $10m (including regional roads).  Contractors are seeking certainty in forward works and future funding announcements and it is not prudent to wait and form part of the October State Budget, so that we continue to build confidence in the sector.

The next meeting of the MTIA Consultative forum is set for 25 May 2020. I welcome continued input to this forum from CCF members and stakeholders engaged in the numerous MTIA projects and happy to take your calls.

Victorian Bushfire Recovery Efforts Continue

Amid the C-19 restrictions, Bushfire Recovery Efforts are continuing throughout areas of Regional Victoria impacted by the fires. 

Last week, the State Government announced a “fast-tracking” of planning processes for the rebuilding of homes and businesses impacted by the recent bushfires. Under the new streamlined process, applications to rebuild dwellings or businesses damaged or destroyed by bushfire after 1 January 2019 will be exempt from some planning requirements – meaning permit applications can be assessed much faster.

While still subject to basic requirements, these types of applications will be exempt from the public notice period as well as being exempt from third party appeals to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal. The new process also allows a CEO or delegate to make decisions on applications, rather than the full council – again clearing a path through the planning process for those Victorians seeking to rebuild.

The streamlined planning process will apply to all homes damaged or destroyed in this summer’s bushfires, in addition to homes impacted by the Bunyip Complex fires in March last year. The changes follow measures already introduced allowing bushfire affected Victorians to build temporary residential or commercial accommodation on their land without a planning permit, subject to safety requirements.

The temporary accommodation is valid for a maximum of three years, giving people time to transition to permanent accommodation. The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning will help guide councils and the community through the new streamlined planning process.

The Government – through Bushfire Recovery Victoria – is continuing to work with affected communities to complete the necessary technical land assessments required to meet current bushfire building standards.  For more information about clean-up, planning permit exemptions for bushfire recovery and Community Recovery Hubs, CCF members can visit: https://www.vic.gov.au/bushfire-recovery-victoria

CCF Online Master Class on new Workplace Manslaughter Legislation with Cameron Hannebery, Special Counsel Workplace Relations & Safety at Lander & Rogers

Throughout CCF’s new webinar series, we will be hearing from subject matter experts on issues that are relevant to you and your business.

I look forward to hosting our upcoming CCF Online Masterclass, focused on the new Workplace Manslaughter Legislation, on Thursday 4th June 2020, designed to inform and engage with members on the key challenges, issues and opportunities confronting our industry. 

With the introduction of new Workplace Manslaughter laws on 1 July 2020, this is a unique opportunity to hear directly from Cameron Hannebery, from Lander & Rogers, who has provided significant advice and consultation to various employer groups, working committees and Government, including CCF, in the drafting of this new legislation.

Cameron is a highly experienced OHS and criminal law practitioner. Cameron was Telstra’s in-house  health and safety legal counsel for 9 years prior to joining Lander & Rogers. Cameron’s areas of expertise include; serious incident management; advising on criminal and regulatory investigations and prosecutions; preparing responses and challenges to regulatory notices; OHS training and advice for directors and senior managers; and appearances in the Victorian Magistrates, County, Supreme and Coroners Courts.

Bookings are now open, with the webinar FREE to all CCF members as a benefit of your membership.

Date: Thursday,  4th June 2020
Time:  9.00 am start – 10.00 am finish 
Cost: CCF Member: FREE / Non – Member: $99 (inc. GST) per person
RSVP: COB Tues 2nd June 2020

Click HERE to register NOW! 

For more information call 1300 DIAL CCF or email events@ccfvic.com.au

Until my next update – keep well & keep safe.

Kind regards,