Further to my recent update on 20 June, the Civil Contractors Federation at both a National and State level, has continued with its’ advocacy and representation work to all tiers of Government during the COVID-19 (C-19) Pandemic.
During the week, we have seen a series of announcements being made by the State Government impacting both socially and economically.
The 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, today announced 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 this week 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.
Until my next CEO Update .… keep well and keep safe.
CEO, CCF Victoria