The Premier of Victoria, Daniel Andrews, announced a number of significant changes to restrictions to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus from 11.59pm – 1 July 2020.
In essence, the challenge for the Victorian Community is that we are not where we should be in relation to containing this spread of the virus. The daily case numbers are on the rise and in select suburbs, Victoria is experiencing significant community transmission of coronavirus. As a result of genomic testing, the Chief Health Officer advised the Government that a number of our cases through late May and early June can be linked to an infection control breach in the hotel quarantine program.
The Premier stated that there had been a failure in the operation of this program. He has ordered the establishment of an inquiry, led by a former judge, into the operation of the hotel quarantine program. He has also asked the Prime Minister to divert flights to other cities for the next two weeks while the State Government resets the program under the supervision of Corrections Victoria. The findings, outcome and recommendations from the inquiry will reported in 8 to 10 weeks’ time.
Over the last 5 days, some 93,000 Victorians have been tested – at community centres, shopping centres and at their own front door. This represents the biggest and most comprehensive testing effort in Australia. In the media last night, the Premier stated that … “Too many people are still going out when they’re sick. Too many people are ignoring rules about physical distancing and pretending restrictions don’t matter. Yet still, somehow, more than a thousand people, when asked, refused to be tested. It shows us that still, somehow, too many people are not taking this seriously.”
In announcing tougher restrictions, the following is a summary of postcodes and suburbs, or “hot zones”, that from 11.59pm on 1 July return to Stage 3 “Stay at Home” restrictions – until at least 29 July.
|3012||Brooklyn, Kingsville, Maidstone, Tottenham, West Footscray|
|3021||Albanvale, Kealba, Kings Park, St Albans|
|3032||Ascot Vale, Highpoint City, Maribyrnong, Travancore|
|3038||Keilor Downs, Keilor Lodge, Taylors Lakes, Watergardens|
|3042||Airport West, Keilor Park, Niddrie|
|3046||Glenroy, Hadfield, Oak Park|
|3047||Broadmeadows, Dallas, Jacana|
|3055||Brunswick south, Brunswick west, Moonee vale, Moreland west|
|3064||Craigieburn, Donnybrook, Mickelham, Roxburgh Park, Kalkallo|
A range of fixed, mobile and drive-through testing clinics are already located across the hotspot suburbs – with 22 sites up and running and more coming online every day.
While testing has already been available locally, the Government is standing up an additional 12 new sites to ensure there are dedicated testing locations in every postcode in coming days. This afternoon testing sites will be up and running at Wyngate Avenue Community Centre, Maribyrnong Community Centre, Fairburn park pavilion in Ascot Vale, Niddrie Community Hub, Glenroy library and AG Gillen Oval. Further announcements will be made on new sites as they open.
To find your nearest testing site visit coronavirus.vic.gov.au or call 1800 675 398.
These postcodes will return to COVID-19 Stage 3 Restrictions at least until 29 July. If you live in, or travel into these locations, there will again only be four reasons to be out:
- Shopping for food and supplies,
- Care and caregiving,
- Exercise, and
- Study or work – if you can’t do it from home.
There will be regular police patrols, both in these zones and outside them, to make sure people are abiding by the restrictions. I encourage all CCF members, contractors and workers to have with them at all times, when questioned by authorities, all of the following key documents:
- Their Construction Induction (CI) white card confirming that they actually work in the Building & Construction sector as an “essential service” – all construction workers will have a valid CI card to identify who they are and that they are duly authorised / inducted to access construction / worksites;
- A Driver’s License or valid ID that will identify and validate the person stated on the CI white card as per above; and
- A letter from their employer that can be placed / downloaded on a digital device (I suggest a phone) to validate all of above;
Fines will be imposed for those community members breaching restrictions and I am endeavouring to position the above protocol as an industry standard, if and when questioned by relevant authorities. Based on the advice of the Chief Health Officer, we can expect that schools will return as planned after the current holiday period from 13 July. We are also advised that for those families who live in these restricted locations but have already left for their holidays – you can continue as you’d planned. But when you come home, these restrictions will apply.
CCF will be continuing to deliver scheduled training services at both Notting Hill and Holmesglen, together with on-site training outside the restricted postcode areas. We have no scheduled on-site training courses planned in the restricted suburbs and these will not be conducted until after the 29 July Stage 3 restrictions have been lifted.
Further announcements relative to our industry can be sumarised as follows:
Billion Dollar Boost to Building and Construction
The Victorian Government has released more than $1 billion worth building projects to assist lead economic recovery efforts.
Treasurer, Tim Pallas, announced on 26 June the Government’s Building Victoria’s Recovery Taskforce had helped fast-track another seven projects, which have all now received planning approval. As the state continues to recover from the economic impacts of the coronavirus crisis, these projects are more important than ever before to create and sustain employment and business. The latest projects to receive planning permits include:
- A $291 million, two tower residential development at 938 Collins Street, Docklands, featuring 668 apartments.
- A $250 million development at 31 Station Street Caulfield, which includes a build-to-rent scheme, affordable housing, a supermarket, retail and office space.
- The $150 million Geelong Civic Precinct, including a 6-storey commercial building to be used as the new civic centre for the City of Greater Geelong, and a 12-storey commercial development to accommodate a further 900 full time workers.
- A $200 million solar farm at Kennedys Creek, located 5km northeast of Benalla, which will generate 115 megawatts, enough to power more than 50,000 households.
- Two multi-storey apartment buildings at 103-109 and 115-117 Boundary Road in North Melbourne with retail and office space, valued at $41.2 million.
- A $70 million development at 346-350 Macaulay Road Kensington, including 6 multi-level buildings comprising 426 dwellings and retail space.
- A $110 million nine-story mixed use development at 285A Burke Road, Glen Iris, which is next to the Gardiner train station, comprising of 11 dwellings funded under the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
On the Taskforce’s advice, the Planning Minister is also in the process of, where appropriate, calling in projects that have become stuck with council or VCAT. To date, he has called in six projects totalling $750 million. Since March, the Government has approved 91 new and amended planning permits for projects which have a combined development value of more than $6 billion.
While these announcements are welcome, the list of projects are heavily weighted towards the vertical build sector. This has not gone un-noticed and at our CCF Victoria Board meeting conducted this week, I have been instructed to arrange a meeting with the Treasurer to discuss further stimulus packages for contractors in the civil construction industry that need to be recognised and supported as part of C-19 recovery efforts.
Over the next week, I will be positioning this with the Treasurer to highlight this shortfall and explore business stimulus options, specifically targeting the land development sector. This will include seeking CCF representation as a member of the Recovery Task Force to ensure our industry is appropriately represented in C-19 recovery efforts through Government stimulus packages being announced to support the Building & Construction sector. I will keep members abreast of our delegations meeting with the Treasurer and any actions emanating from this.
Version 4 – Industry Working Group’s Covid-19 Guidelines for the Building and Construction Industry now released
The Building and Construction Industry Working Group met and endorsed a new version, V4, of the Guidelines for immediate release to industry members.
Please find a link below of the new version 4 guidelines together with a self-explanatory note identifying the major changes since the version 3 release.
With the increase in positive cases in the community being experienced, this brings with it a heightened risk of Covid-19 appearing on construction worksites. We encourage all contractors to exercise continued diligence in applying the Guidelines, including effective screening of workers coming to site, physical distancing etc, so sites can be safe from transmission.
Through the Building & Construction Working Group, we are also seeking clarification on what might be proposed in terms of essential workers in the event that we see any suburbs or localities being sent into lockdown. Representations are continuing to be made to retain the Building and Construction industry as essential.
Central Gippsland Irrigation Funding
Minister for Water, Lisa Neville, this week announced $500,000 for a study to scope potential development of further irrigation in the region.
The feasibility study will examine potential infrastructure options for expanding irrigation development in Central Gippsland – based on customer demand and willingness to invest, and water availability. The study builds on pre-feasibility work undertaken by Southern Rural Water in 2018 to identify potential development opportunities in the Latrobe, Thomson, Macalister and Avon catchments.
Once complete, the study will assist informed decision making for any future strategic investment in rural water infrastructure. Key stakeholders will help identify preferred infrastructure options based on demand and water availability. Southern Rural Water will conduct the study and Gippsland communities will have an opportunity to provide their feedback and expertise in helping shape the work.
The work will feed into the Government’s Sustainable Water Strategy to be conducted over the next twelve months in Central Victoria including Gippsland – which is a regular examination of the water resource and its management in a given region. The study aligns with the objectives in Water for Victoria, the Governments water plan, to support regional development, invest in infrastructure and help irrigation districts adapt to a drier climate.
New Labor Ministry Announced
Three new members of Cabinet were sworn in this week with Natalie Hutchins, Shaun Leane and Danny Pearson joining the Andrews Labor Government Ministry.
Well known to CCF Victoria through his support of our Civil Skills Cadetship program, Shaun Leane was appointed Minister for Suburban Development. And also Minister for Local Government. Ben Carroll will step into the frontline roles of Minister for Public Transport and Minister for Roads and Road Safety and I look forward to working closely with Ben in his new portfolio.
Other appointments impacting on our industry is the expansion of the Minister for Transport Infrastructure, Jacinta Allan, portfolio in leading the delivery of our biggest public transport project as the Minister for the Suburban Rail Loop. She will also continue to oversee Development Victoria and the key transport precincts of Arden, Sunshine and the Richmond to Flinders Street corridor.
We all need to do our part. Remain vigilant and please adhere to the Building & Construction Guidelines on worksites that have been developed to minimise risk and spread of Coronavirus.
Until my next CEO Update .… keep well and keep safe.
CEO, CCF Victoria