July 13- COVID-19 BORDER RESTRICTIONS - ADVICE TO INDUSTRY
The ACT Government has provided advice for the building and construction industry regarding the border restrictions imposed for the ACT.
From 12.01am on Wednesday 8 July 2020, the ACT has closed its borders for anyone travelling into the ACT from Victoria, unless they have an exemption to enter. ACT residents are approved to return to their home, subject to entering quarantine for a period of 14 days, from the day after leaving Victoria.
All other travellers from Victoria to the ACT should not be travelling.
Non-ACT residents who have an exceptional need to travel to the ACT will need to apply for an exemption at least 48 hours before their intended travel date (with the exception of freight, which is discussed below).
It should not be assumed that an exemption will be granted.
What this means for Construction and Infrastructure Activities in the ACT:
• The border closure may have implications for construction and infrastructure projects in the ACT. In this respect:
• There may be delays in materials being transported from Victoria to the ACT.
• Workers who visit or return to Victoria will not be permitted back into the ACT without an exemption permit.
Under no circumstances is anyone (including ACT Government employees, delivery partners or suppliers) to go onto any ACT Government health project site or health campus if they have been in Victoria since 26 June 2020 or are feeling unwell. Even if you have an exemption to come into the ACT, you should not attend any ACT Government health project sites unless you have completed 14 days of quarantine.
For more information, view the ACT Government fact sheet.
July 8- Restrictions imposed for ACT border
As COVID-19 case numbers continue to grow in Melbourne, as of today the ACT has closed its border for anyone travelling into the ACT from Victoria, unless they have an exemption to enter.
All ACT residents returning from Victoria will be required to enter quarantine for a period of 14 days from the day after leaving Victoria.
All returning ACT residents must notify ACT Health of their intent to return to the ACT. Residents must provide a number of details to COVID.Exemptions@act.gov.au, more information can be found here.
We understand that our members may have questions relating to this border closure and how this may impact their business, please see below answers to some common questions relating to the border closure. If you would like to contact the MBA ACT directly, please call (02) 6175 5900 or email email@example.com for more information.
Q. What if a staff member goes on holidays to Victoria, can they immediately return to work?
No. Anyone who enters the ACT, and has been in the greater Melbourne metropolitan area, is required to quarantine in the ACT until 14 days after leaving Melbourne, or return to their home jurisdiction at the earliest reasonable opportunity.
You should consider whether your employee is able to work from home during this period of self-isolation (assuming they are not unwell and are otherwise fit for work). If their role and your business can facilitate working from home, this should be your preferred option. If not, the employee may be entitled to access personal leave (if accrued). Full time and permanent employees may also access other leave entitlements if they have exhausted their personal leave. There is no legal obligation to pay casual workers who are unable to attend work due to self-isolation requirements, or workers who do not have any personal leave.
Q. Can an employer ask an employee to report if they have visited Victoria in the last two weeks?
As an employer, you must comply with your obligations to provide a safe workplace for its workers. The employer must also comply with any enforceable government directions issued during the Coronavirus pandemic and should encourage their workers to do the same.
If an employer suspects that an employee has travelled to and returned from Victoria in the last two weeks, they can consult with the employee as to their recent travel and then determine the appropriate course of action required to be taken, if any.
Many businesses are now implementing regular consultation with their employees during staff meetings or tool box talks through the use of a simple questionnaire with regard to their recent travel and potential symptoms of COVID-19.
An employer cannot issue a direction to its employees to not travel for personal reasons, however must ensure that they are taking all necessary measures to protect the health and safety of their workers.
There are certain circumstances where travel from Victoria into NSW/ACT is allowed however such travel can only be undertaken where the person is authorised to do so and holds the relevant permit, issued under the public health order.
It is strongly recommended that employers encourage all employees to comply with any directions issued by Commonwealth or State/Territory Agencies (e.g. ACT Government – Public Health Directions).
Further information about your obligations under Australian Workplace laws during this pandemic can be found here.
Q. I have building supplies that are coming from Victoria – what does this mean for me?
MBA ACT is in regular contact with other MBA offices across Australia about the prevalence of a shortage building supply products. We will continue to provide updates on specific products, and any shortages generally, as the information becomes available.
You can also obtain information directly from your suppliers.
We encourage all members to keep the MBA informed of any supply shortages that you are experiencing, so that we are able to provide all members with relevant and up to date information.
Q. I need more information on the restrictions imposed for the ACT border, where can I find this?
• You can find more information on the ACT border restrictions through the ACT Government’s COVID-19 website here.
• The ACT Government has also released public health advice for people entering the ACT from Victoria which can be found here.
• Master Builders ACT has released a FAQ document which addresses workplace issues, supply issues, safety concerns and contract questions. Click here to read more.
Master Builders ACT would like to remind members to remain vigilant and practice good hygiene and social distancing on and off site. If you need assistance with work health and safety, industrial relations or any other matters during this time, please contact MBA ACT on (02) 6175 5900 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
June 25– CEO Michael Hopkins speaks at COVID-19 Pandemic Response Hearing
Master Builders ACT CEO Michael Hopkins speaks at Legislative Assembly Hearing
Today, Master Builders ACT CEO Michael Hopkins spoke at the Legislative Assembly Hearing into the COVID-19 Pandemic Response. Mr Hopkins took the opportunity to thank the building and construction industry for their swift and thorough response to implement social distancing and increased hygiene measures on worksites.
Mr Hopkins also highlighted the economic impacts that are already being felt within the construction industry, including a 6.4% decline in jobs across the construction sector since February this year. He also highlighted the concern within the industry for a future pipeline of work over the coming 6 – 12 months, particularly in the civil and commercial construction sectors, noting that the industry is preparing for tough times ahead. With the release of the ACT Budget delayed due to COVID-19, Mr Hopkins stated the crucial need for the four year capital works program to be urgently released so that industry has confidence of the pipeline of work ahead.
Whilst discussing apprenticeships, Mr Hopkins called on all levels of Government to work together to provide continued financial support for employers once the current subsidies finish. This includes support from the ACT Government to continue to fully fund the training of apprentices, particularly in areas that are facing skills shortages.
Mr Hopkins also repeated calls for urgent action to be taken by the ACT Government to implement the MBA’s comprehensive submission to the ACT Government which outlined sixteen suggestions of how to support the ACT economy and create jobs in the construction industry. These suggestions include additional spending on social housing and the creation of an Energy Efficiency and Accessible Housing Fund.
LVC Remission Announced
Today, the ACT Government has announced a 50% remission to Lease Variation Charge (LVC) capped at $250,000 of benefit.
The 50% reduction applies to lease variation charges paid from Thursday until December 23.
The announcement came after the MBA, together with the Property Council and HIA, jointly wrote to the ACT Government calling for a time-limited uncapped 100% LVC remission.
While the remission will help many smaller projects, the $250,000 cap will severely limit the potential benefit of the remission.
LVC for major projects can be as high as $3 or $4 million dollars, or higher. A $250,000 remission is unlikely to incentivise developers to bring forward major projects. This will mean that individual projects which could generate hundreds of jobs will probably stay on hold.
The LVC has been a controversial charge, and many in the community may see this as a free hand-out to developers. The reality is that any savings generated through this remission will be more than offset by productivity losses due to adhering to social distancing and hygiene rules, and downward pressure on apartment sale prices.
As has become customary for the ACT Government, when given a chance to introduce a bold job generating program, it has again attached conditions and half-measures which will limit the economic benefits of the remission.
Master Builders ACT welcomes an additional $35 million of infrastructure funding
Over recent weeks, Master Builders ACT has increased our calls to Government to provide additional infrastructure funding to support the civil construction sector.
Master Builders ACT has welcomed the announcement that the Commonwealth and ACT Governments will support construction jobs across the Canberra region by jointly investing an additional $35 million to deliver shovel-ready infrastructure projects and urgent road safety upgrades.
The additional funding will go towards upgrading intersections, improving Northbourne Avenue, delivering a new Mitchell light rail stop and investing in road safety barriers as well as variable speed limit infrastructure on the Tuggeranong Parkway.
View the full media release here.
Federal Government Releases New information on HomeBuilder
Last week the Federal Government released further detail about the implementation of the HomeBuilder grant.
While the scheme will be implemented through a National Partnership Agreement between the ACT Government and the Federal Government which is yet to be finalised, the updated FAQ document provides new information about:
• Construction commencement
• Granny flats
• Arms length transactions
• Spec builds
• Retirement villages & land lease communities