Over the last week we have continued to see a series of important announcements and initiatives introduced by Federal and State Government in tackling the COVID—19 Pandemic.  In addition, CCF has continued with our advocacy and representation for and on behalf of the industry.  The following is a brief update of these current activities for your reference.

In a response to my continued positioning of support for the civil construction industry during the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Treasurer, the Hon Tim Pallas, last week re-inforced to CCF the State Government’s position that:

  • the construction sector is pivotal to the economic success of our State;
  • they remain committed to their current infrastructure programme;
  • the construction sector is seen as a trusted partner, even more importantly through these uncertain times. 

It was also acknowledged by the State Government, that the sector is already feeling the effects of workforce disruptions, and changes in both the global and domestic supply chains as a result of this unprecedented event.

Joint submission to the Premier 4 May 2020 (MBAV, CCF, CFMEU, Master Plumbers & NECA)

Today, correspondence on behalf of the Building & Construction Working Group was submitted to the Premier, the Hon Daniel Andrews.

While acknowledging the strong leadership shown by the Premier and his Government during the COVID-19 Pandemic, we re-inforced the work of the group in keeping construction worksites open and the important role the Building & Construction sector will play in leading the social and economic recovery.  Economic modelling commissioned by Master Builders and undertaken by ACIL-Allen, projected that the cost of a complete shutdown of the building and construction industry would have been $25.4 billion with 166,000 jobs lost, with the building and construction sector providing 45% of Victoria’s tax revenue and is the state’s largest full-time employer. 

We are continuing to engage with Government to also highlight the important role played by property developers in the Land Development sector.  The above State Government tax revenue is “at risk” without recognition and support for many “shovel ready” projects, or works on tenders that have stalled, due to current housing market concerns and uncertainty of sales. Any Government stimulus packages or initiatives that provides certainty for property developers, would indeed be welcome and preserve the Government’s revenue position through the continuance of a sustainable pipeline of works.

A copy of the joint submission to the Premier will be placed on the CCF member portal for members reference, upon release. https://portal.ccfvic.com.au/SignIn?returnUrl=%2F

MTIA Ministerial COVID-19 Consultative Forum

Despite these challenges, the key message is the State Government remains committed to delivery of their projects and those in the development pipeline.  The Government also acknowledged the strong need for flexibility, collaboration and trust with their delivery partners. I will continue to represent your interests on the MTIA Ministerial COVID-19 Consultative Forum with Minister Jacinta Allan, with our initial meeting conducted 27 April 2020.  I welcome your input to this forum from CCF members and stakeholders engaged in the numerous MTIA projects.

Payment Terms for Government Contracts

The Victorian Government confirmed that is “fast-tracking” payments on all outstanding supplier invoices and is implementing a maximum 10-day payment period on future Government invoices. The Government is directing their agencies to maintain cashflows to our contractors and suppliers will be critical to the survival of both businesses and jobs in this C-19 period. 

I have received recent reports from select CCF members regarding a “push” by local council and specific Government agencies (ie Water Authorities) on a “tightening” of security and bank guarantees for works.  While I am currently investigating these specific issues, typically most contracts call for a:

  • 5% Security to warrant performance under the contract;
  • 5% Retention to facilitate cash payments in lieu of cash retentions;
  • Both reduce by 50% at practical completion – namely to 2.5%;

The maintenance period is normally a function of the complexity of works completed. In the water industry (when pumps, pump wells, deep trenches which can be prone to subsidence), the period is normally 1 to 2 years. Vic Roads is typically 12 months & Local councils 3 months, MRWA (water authorities) is normally 3 months, however, there is a deed executed by the contractor, which is usually valid for 2 years post end of maintenance. If members are experiencing issues with regards to security for works, I would encourage you to speak with your Member Services Officer, Annie Kessell (Western Victoria) or Mark Caton (Eastern Victoria) in this regard.

CCF National Survey – representation to the State Government

Over the last week, I have positioned the recent CCF National Survey results with the State Government, that we have previously shared with members.  In particular, the report was sent to the Minister for Major Transport Infrastructure, the Hon Jacinta Allan and the Minister for Training and Skills and Minister for Higher Education, the Hon Gayle Tierney; providing the respective Ministers’ insights of the impact COVID-19 has had on CCF member businesses.

While welcoming the $261m announcement on 17 April 2020 by the State Government for “Skilling Up Victorians to get through the C-19 crisis”, we highlighted to the Minister the failure to acknowledge the important role played by industry RTO’s such as CCF and Civil Train, in building the capacity and capability of our industry through direct training of apprentices and trainees employed by SME’s in our sector. 

The funding package announced by the State Government 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 the Government understands the 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 has requested the opportunity to meet with the Minister and explore what this support package means as it applies to Industry RTOs, like Civil Train, and the opportunities to promote “careers in civil” as part of the Government’s Skilling up Victorians and Working for Victoria initiative. I will keep members abreast of developments in this regard.

CCF Welcomes Freeze to Heavy Vehicle Road User Charge

The CCF National Branch, CEO, Chris Melham, welcomed the Federal Government’s decision last Friday to “freeze” the Heavy Vehicle Road User Charge at current levels.

Through our engagement with the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack, and Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport Scott Buchholz on this measure, this represents a significant cash saving to the heavy vehicle industry.  The savings realised by this decision to freeze the road user charge at 25.8 cents per litre will help offset other costs and impacts imposed on civil construction companies by COVID-19.

To read about this Media Release from CCF National office please click here.

COVID-19 Guidelines – Building & Construction Working Group

A Rapid Industry Guidance (RIG) service is now available to all stakeholders for responding to issues associated with coronavirus  (COVID-19) in the Building and Construction Industry in Victoria.  This service has been launched in conjunction with an update of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidelines for the Building and Construction Industry Victoria  – Version 3 released on 20 April.  Refer link the following link for the latest version of the published guidelines.

Under the guidance of the Victorian Government, a COVID-19 Taskforce has been established for our industry. A dedicated Industry Liaison Role has been established to be the authoritative single point of contact to provide rapid guidance to industry parties for clarification or explanation of these Industry Guidelines.  The Taskforce comprises representatives from:

  • Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) – Greg Stenton
  • WorkSafe Victoria – Colin Radford
  • Victorian Building Authority (VBA) – Sue Eddy 
  • Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC) – Matt O’Connor
  • Chair of Victorian Building Industry Disputes Panel – Peter Parkinson

Michael Paynter has been appointed to the role of Industry Liaison Officer, engaged by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Michael is an experienced consultant in the Building and Construction Industry and has a proven ability to communicate effectively with all stakeholders in the industry.  DHHS has also engaged respected Professor Malcolm Sim from Monash University to provide expert advice to the Taskforce in the field of occupational and environmental health.

Workers, unions, contractors, employers, industry associations and any participant in the industry can now ring for advice about such issues as hygiene standards, physical distancing, screening workers coming to site, use of personnel hoists and other practicalities of continuing to keep the Building and Construction Industry working safely.   A dedicated Call Centre has been established within the Victorian Building Authority, which is accessed by calling the DHHS Coronavirus Hotline on 1800 675 398 and selecting Option 5. This will direct you to a specialist team at the Victorian Building Authority who will be able to provide assistance and advice. The specialist team will escalate matters to the Industry Liaison Officer (Michael Paynter) as necessary.

The following is a summary of calls received by the VBA over the last week following the establishment of this COVID-19 Hotline for the Building & Construction Industry.

COVID-19 Testing Program – w/c 4 May – 8 May (inclusive)

You will have seen series of social media posts over the last week from both myself and CCF Victoria on various platforms in response to the recent launch converting the Incolink Mobile Clinic, to a COVID-19 testing facility on construction sites. One such post is available here on my LinkedIn feed.  https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6661026862300446720/

Building on the suggestion that CCF Victoria initiated at the Building & Construction Working Group and follow-up work that we conducted with the State Government, Incolink & Company Medical Services, the introduction of on-site testing of workers is highly visible and an excellent initiative in the fight against the spread of the COVID-19 virus on construction work sites in the State.  Arrangements are now confirmed for establishment of the next on site testing facilities for this week (refer below). This program is subject to change for logistical reasons.

  Clinic 1 Clinic 2 Clinic 3 Clinic 4
Monday, 4 May 20 LXRP Lendlease Cheltenham Probuild Westside Place RPV CYP D&C JHG North Melbourne
Tuesday, 5 May 20 LXRP Lendlease Cheltenham Kane University Melbourne RPV CYP D&C JHG North Melbourne RPV CYP D&C Domain Road
Wednesday, 6 May 20 RPV RIA John Holland South Yarra Kane University Melbourne RPV CYP D&C JHG North Melbourne RPV CYP D&C Domain Road
Thursday, 7 May 20 Hutchinsons SC Armstrong Creek Icon CSL Broadmeadows RPV CYP D&C JHG CBD City Square NWPA John Holland Brunswick
Friday, 8 May 20 ADCO Altona Icon CSL Broadmeadows RVP CYP D&C JHG Parkville NWPA John Holland Brunswick

New Engineering Design & Construction Manual (EDCM) now available through the VPA website

Working with the emerging council’s Technical Working Group, a new Engineering and Design Manual (EDCM) has now been launched on the VPA website.

This EDCM outlines a series of shared engineering standards and specifications, prepared by the Metropolitan Planning Authority (MPA), the municipalities of Casey, Cardinia, Hume, Melton, Whittlesea and Wyndham and the Office of Local Government following consultation with key stakeholders, including CCF representatives.

A copy of the new EDCM is available for reference and downloading via the following link. https://vpa.vic.gov.au/strategy-guidelines/engineering-standards/. A follow-up of this release will also be included in our next CCF Connect e-newsletter.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank our CCF Technical Working Group representatives in Gary Gardiner & Dom Modric (CivilworX), Steve Traicevski (Rokon) and Geoff Reynolds (representing CCF – GRM Consulting) for their contribution and work in the development of this new EDCM release.

CCF Launches Webinar Series – Workplace Manslaughter Legislation Workshop with Cameron Hannebery (Lander & Rogers) 14 May 2020

Further to our announcement last week in CCF Connect e-news, I look forward hosting a series of CCF Webinars over the coming months that deliver real and practical value to our members, while keeping you abreast of the industry’s key issues, news and updates. 

The first of these will be building on the workshops previously presented by Cameron Hannebery from Lander & Rogers, prior to the C-19 restrictions being introduced on the introduction of Workplace Manslaughter Legislation, wef 1 July 2020.  This is a great opportunity to hear and engage with Cameron, who will present to members the key areas of the new legislation and what this means for you and your business in the civil construction sector.

This webinar will be FREE to CCF Victoria Members, as a benefit of membership, with a nominal charge being made for non-members and guests.  More details regarding the event and bookings will be circulated in the next 24 hours, or contact the team at CCF on 1300 DIAL CCF.

COVID-19 Restrictions now makes available 350,000 cubic metres of Clean Fill

In recent discussions with CCF member, Jim Birch, Australia Wide Earthmovers (AWE), one of the consequences of the C-19 Pandemic has seen the release and availability of up to 350,000 cubic metres of certified clean fill from his Tullamarine facility. 

Opposite Melbourne Airport and adjoining the Mitchell Lasery Quarry, AWE is making this clean fill available to CCF members with clean fill certificates provided upon request.  This Class B clean fill is compactable to 95% and above with AWE also offering to deliver.  All commercial enquiries are to be directed to Jim Birch, AWE on (0427) 009-999 or email awe.birch@bigpond.com

Until my next CEO Update .… keep well and keep safe.

Kind regards,