Last week we continued to see a series of important announcements and releases made by Federal and State Governments, together with its relevant Departments & Agencies. The following is an precise’ of these announcements, that impact on you and your business. I encourage you to take the time to read, familiarise yourself with the detail and take appropriate action, where necessary, so that you may benefit from these initiatives announced.
CCF ADVOCACY UPDATE
I mentioned in my last update the work CCF is doing in its advocacy work at both a National and State Branch. The following is a quick summary of what has taken place in the last 7 days and re-inforces the benefit of your CCF membership.
(i) CCF National Survey
In “ramping-up” our media engagement and advocacy work in Canberra, CCF members were recently invited to complete a survey on the impact COVID-19 has and is having on their business operations. The overriding objective of the survey was to obtain feedback and data on the following business impact of COVID-19, the capacity for companies to tender for more civil construction projects in the short term, and the likelihood of companies employing more workers should they be successful in a tender.
228 CCF contractor members from all States & Territories completed the survey with the following results highlighted:
- More than half of the companies that responded to the survey said COVID-19 had disrupted or delayed projects;
- 19 per cent stated there had been a “significant negative impact” on their businesses;
- More than 100 of the respondents cited lack of work opportunities due to the virus;
- 93 referred to travel restrictions, and
- 73 identified disruptions to supply chains.
- Companies were finding it harder to get approvals from local councils as some restructured or shut down, and had experienced delays moving people and materials across state borders;
- Just over a 25% of companies that responded to the survey said payment of invoices had been delayed due to COVID-19.
Detailed copy of the CCF National survey report for you information and the findings are now being used in our advocacy and representation to Government. I refer you to the Media Release released this afternoon from CCF National which is self-explanatory. The Survey Report has been sent to the Prime Minister, with a request that the Prime Minister table the report to National Cabinet members.
Key focus for our advocacy work is keeping civil construction sites open across Australia, increasing the level of Government spending for civil infrastructure projects, more project allocation to Australian owned civil construction companies operating at Tier 2, Tier 3 and below, improved procurement and supplier payment arrangement, a fairer spread of projects across all Australian jurisdictions; and an increase in the level of training, education and upskilling funding.
(ii) Major Transport Infrastructure Authority (MTIA) Ministerial COVID-19 Consultative Forum
Working with the Office of the Director General (ODG), MTIA is establishing a model for Ministerial engagement with Victorian construction unions and key industry employers on MTIA project matters, relating to COVID-19 matters.
As CCF Victoria – CEO, I will be participating on this select reference group in representing the interests of civil contractors engaged on these MTIA projects of state significance. It is proposed that a combined group of construction unions, key employer representatives, ODG (Corey Hannett) and the Minister (the Hon Jacinta Allan), establish ongoing consultative arrangements in order to continue to co-operatively address the current workplace challenges at this time. This will be referred to as the MTIA Ministerial COVID-19 Consultative Forum (MTIA MCCF).
It is important to note that the MTIA’s delivery partners and construction participants each have management and control of safety matters for their respective projects, including in relation to COVID-19. Whilst fully acknowledging the cooperative and constructive intent of this forum, matters addressed in this forum are not intended to change these accountabilities at law or under existing contractual arrangements. It will continue to be important to recognise existing contractual frameworks to ensure accountabilities under these are maintained and responsibilities are not ‘blurred’.
The MTIA MCCF terms of reference are focussed on COVID-19 issues specifically related to the MTIA projects in the short term (supporting continuation of works), medium term (addressing matters in the event of a partial industry shutdown) and long term (supporting a broader recovery period). The terms of reference for the MTIA MCCF will include:
- Provision for regular, high-level meeting between Government, MTIA, construction companies and union representatives to provide a forum for discussion on significant COVID-19 matters, specifically relating to MTIA projects;
- a mechanism to support consistent working environments across, to assist in addressing the challenges COVID-19 presents for MTIA’s project delivery program; will provide advice to Victorian Government, DHHS and WorkSafe on common matters relevant to the MTIA’s project delivery environment for relating to COVID-19;
- continuing to support the development and communication of consistent construction-related guidance, via a central point (with the aim of ensuring simplicity of application across MTIA projects);
- identifying and articulating matters related to practical implementation of COVID-19 published guidelines on MTIA projects;
I am keen to hear from CCF members and contractors engaged in MTIA projects to ensure I am adequately briefed in representing your interests in this forum (email firstname.lastname@example.org ). These include issues on matters that include the identification and resolution (where possible) of any COVID-19 matters arising from published guidelines. In addition, identifying opportunities for DHHS/WorkSafe to review/revise or address notable gaps in existing COVID-19 published guidelines, to further improve consistent and aligned application on worksites.
There are qualified limitations in the terms of reference for the MTIA MCCF. Details of the Terms of Reference and these qualified limitations will be placed on the CCF member portal for reference by CCF members with updates emanating from the MTIA MCCF forum also placed on the portal, once ratified.
(iii) State Government Funding for Skilling Up Victorians To Get Through The Coronavirus Crisis while welcome – misses the mark !!
While welcoming the $261m announcement last week by the State Government for “Skilling Up Victorians to get through the C-19 crisis”, it fails to acknowledge the important role played by industry RTO’s such as CCF, in building the capacity and capability of our industry through direct training of apprentices and trainees employed by SME’s in our sector.
The package will provide TAFEs, dual sector TAFEs, Learn Local providers and AMES Australia across Victoria, the funding certainty to support their operations at least until the middle of the year. Something industry RTO’s such as CCF’s Civil Train, do not enjoy. While TAFE provides the bulk of VET in the construction and building industry, it’s important to understand the important role played by Industry Associations, which have also invested heavily in training and are being hit hard by COVID-19. It is disappointing that there appears to have been no consultation with Industry RTOs prior to this announcement, despite previous commitments by the Andrews Government that it would consult more widely than TAFE in developing initiatives in the VET sector.
It is encouraging the Government’s commitment in the announcement, that it will work with TAFE and training providers to support the training sector. CCF will now seek to discuss and clarify through its various forums, what this support package means as it applies to Industry RTOs, like Civil Train.
(iv) Cement Concrete & Aggregates Australia (CCAA) releases COVID-19 Extractive Resources Strategy
During the COVID-19 crisis, we have been working in close association with many industry employer groups, including the UDIA, Master Builders, Master Plumbers, NECA and CCAA.
The CCAA released last week, its Extractive Resources Strategy calling for reforms across government to support businesses retain capability, streamline approvals and fast-track state and local government projects. As previously stated, the construction industry and relevant sectors are committed to working with government to ensure Victoria can capitalise on a construction led recovery.
The Extractive Resources Strategy is more relevant than ever and CCAA is encouraging support from the Minister for Resources to activate senior government representation on the Taskforce to see the actions accelerated in preparation for recovery. Refer to the link and policy document for more details.
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT “JOBKEEPER” PAYMENT (JKP) SCHEME
Business can register from today (20 April 2020) with the ATO, their eligibility to participate in the Federal Government’s $130bn “JobKeeper” payment (JKP) scheme. Employers are eligible for the JobKeeper payment if all of the following apply:
- On 1 March 2020, you carried on a business in Australia or were a not-for-profit organisation that pursued your objectives principally in Australia.
- You employed at least one eligible employee on 1 March 2020.
- Your eligible employees are currently employed by your business for the fortnights you claim for (including those who are stood down or re-hired).
- Your business has faced either
- 30% fall in turnover (for an aggregated turnover of $1 billion or less)
- 50% fall in turnover (for an aggregated turnover of more than $1 billion)
- 15% fall in turnover (for ACNC-registered charities other than universities and schools).
- Your business is not one of the ineligible categories.
For you to claim the JKP payments, employees are required to complete an assessment form and retain as a record for the ATO if they are an eligible employee. Please note your employees need to nominate the employer as being their primary employer. Employee eligibility forms do not need to be submitted to the ATO but must be kept on file for audit purposes. Nomination form for eligibility to be completed by your employees.
BUILDING AND CONSTRUCTION SITES – Version 3 Release of Guidelines
A new version of guidelines (version 3) covering practices on worksites during the COVID-19 Pandemic, that was released today following extensive consultation with the Building & Construction Working Group.
(i) WorkSafe Guidance material – “Managing the risk of COVID-19 Exposure – Construction Industry”
In addition, WorkSafe today released its new guidance “Managing the risk of COVID-19 Exposure – Construction Industry”. This guidance material has been developed by WorkSafe in consultation with the various employer groups and unions engaged in the Foundations for Safety Victoria Forum, which CCF Victoria is represented.
Civil Train RTO Remains “Open for Business”
Through our Civil Train RTO, we are conducting a select range of scheduled courses, while continuing to support members through on-site training and servicing of Apprentices and Trainees during the C-19 restrictions with appropriate health protocols in place.
Our Civil Train RTO operations remains open for business. This is an ideal time to conduct specific on-site training, or refresher training tailored to meet your local needs. We will shortly introduce a range of civil construction courses on-line and in a new learning management system, which will be launched to CCF members before the end of April 2020.
So if you require training, contact the team at CCF on 1300 DIAL CCF, or email email@example.com for more details.
I trust if you have any questions or queries emanating from this CEO update, you will not hesitate to contact me, or contact the team on 1300 DIAL CCF.