Member Alerts


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 canberra@mba.org.au 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 canberra@mba.org.au.

 

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

June 19- HomeBuilder Details Released

Today the Commonwealth Government has 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 Commonwealth 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

The MBA is continuing to work with the Commonwealth Government on a range of implementation measures. We would appreciate members feedback about the HomeBuilder grant by responding to our national survey by Monday. Please take five minutes to complete the survey here and share the link with the builders in your network.

June 4– Master Builders Advocacy Success

Today Master Builders ACT welcomed the Federal and ACT Government’s announcements of residential building stimulus packages to support almost 20,000 ACT construction workers.

Federal Government announces HomeBuilder Program
The Federal Government announced the HomeBuilder package which will provide a much needed lifeline to the building and construction industry. We are pleased to see the Federal Government supporting the home building industry to strengthen the economy.

The program will provide a much-needed boost to the building and construction industry as we prepare to lead Australia’s economic recovery effort.

HomeBuilder will provide eligible owner-occupiers (including first home buyers) with a grant of $25,000 to build a new home or substantially renovate an existing home. HomeBuilder will assist the residential construction market by encouraging the commencement of new home builds and renovations.

The program will allow projects to commence almost immediately, ensuring that building activity can continue over the coming months when the industry is anticipated to feel the greatest impact from the economic downturn.
For more information on the HomeBuilder scheme, please click here.

ACT Government announces further stamp duty cuts
The ACT Government also announced today further stamp duty cuts. This includes zero stamp duty payable on new land single residential blocks and off-the-plan apartment and townhouse purchases up to $500,000.
For off-the-plan apartments or townhouses that cost between $500,000 and $750,000, the stamp duty will be reduced by $11,400.
The announcement by the ACT Government to further decrease stamp duty on new builds will complement the Federal Government’s HomeBuilder scheme and will remain in place for any eligible purchase in the ACT from June 4 this year until June 30 next year.
The announcements made today will hopefully encourage new home buyers to enter the housing market or current homeowners to upgrade by building a new home.
Master Builders ACT is proud to announce these advocacy wins to our members, as we continue to lobby Government on the issues that are important to the building and construction industry.

 

June 3- Master Builders ACT lobbies to Government on housing and civil construction stimulus

Master Builders ACT calls for housing stimulus package

Over recent weeks Master Builders ACT has been calling for a renovations rescue package and new homeowner grant to support the local housing sector. For every $1 invested in housing there is $3 of economic benefit. While it's great news that the Federal Government is listening to our call, it’s important that the ACT Government support these initiatives to maximise the benefit of housing stimulus and support the close to 20,000 ACT construction workers.

Over the coming days and weeks, Master Builders ACT will continue to support our members by calling for the ACT Government to invest in the proposed housing stimulus package to ensure a future pipeline of work for our members.

Master Builders ACT calls for urgent spending for local civil construction work
Yesterday, Master Builders ACT issued a media release which detailed newly released ABS data revealing that the volume of civil construction work done in the ACT continues to decline.

In the media release, Master Builders ACT CEO Michael Hopkins called for urgent increased capital works spending by both the Federal and ACT Government’s, stating that the decline in public funded capital works, especially ACT funded infrastructure, remains a key concern for the local construction industry.

Read the full media release here.

MBA launches new IR push

Last week the Master Builders Association, together with the HIA and Ai Group, filed an application to temporarily vary the Construction Awards to address the ongoing safety and economic challenges posed by COVID-19.

The application to the Fair Work Commission follows weeks of discussions with building unions which regrettably failed to reach a consensus on what we see as necessary changes to the Awards at this time.

The changes sought are not only in light of issues the building and construction industry has faced in relation to social distancing and hygiene, but also in response to the various data already showing a significant downturn in the industry and predicting an even more dire economic outcome in the coming months.

Designed to help Master Builders members remain viable and protect jobs, the changes essentially reflect those made by the JobKeeper amendments to the Fair Work Act, enabling workplaces to better respond to COVID-19 and hopefully minimise any adverse impacts.

We have also sought to loosen particularly restrictive provisions unique to the Construction Awards, such as the Redundancy, RDO and casual minimum engagement clauses, as well as extend the ordinary hours of work to better enable businesses to safely stagger work undertaken on site. This is particularly critical for smaller businesses who use the award and make up more than 98% of the sector.

If granted, the proposed variation would result in a new Schedule to be included in the Building and Construction General On-Site Award 2010, Joinery and Building Trades Award 2010 and Mobile Crane Hiring Award 2010. The Schedules, where applicable, would provide a number of flexibilities to assist in mitigating against the impacts of the pandemic including to:

  • Incorporate the Fair Work Commission’s own Unpaid Pandemic and Annual leave at half pay provisions.
  • Provide employers with the ability to give employees certain directions; such as to take accrued annual leave and RDOs, undertake other duties, and reduce the number of hours and location of work.
  • Allow employers and employees to agree to an extended ordinary hours of work, to be between 6:00am and 7:00pm Monday to Friday, and 6:00am and 2:00pm on Saturdays.
  • Bring forward the capacity for employers and employees to have greater flexibility in determining how accrued RDOs may be rostered and taken.
  • Amend the definition of redundancy to reflect its conventional meaning and to allow employers to apply to the Commission for the amount of redundancy pay to be reduced (which may be nil) if they cannot afford to pay.
  • Reduce the daily minimum engagement of casual employees within both the Joinery and On-Site Awards to 2 hours.
  • Bring forward the ability for employers and employees to agree to the employee taking time off instead of overtime.

Master Builders has asked that the temporary changes come into effect as soon as possible and operate until 31 December 2020 (unless a further extension is sought).

The matter has been expedited by the Commission, with a directions hearing listed for 9:30am on Monday 1 June before Vice President Adam Hatcher to discuss the proposed timetabling of submissions and scheduling of a hearing date.

JobMaker Initiative
Master Builders ACT welcomes the Australian Government’s investment in skills as a key component of the JobMaker initiative announced by the Prime Minister on 26 May 2020. The new JobMaker initiative will see funding directed to skills areas which will best assist economic growth. Master Builders will continue to work with industry bodies including, Skills Canberra and ITECA, to identify what skills, and therefor training courses, will be in demand to support the economy. We will continue to communicate with you details of the Vocational Education overhaul when the guidelines are released.

 

May 27 – MBA Supports the Federal Government's Recovery Reform Agenda

Master Builders ACT welcomes the Federal Government’s Recovery Reform Agenda, which was announced yesterday at the Prime Minister’s National Press Club Address. Prime Minister Scott Morrison indicated the key role that the building and construction industry will play in the economic recovery effort.

In our media release yesterday, Master Builders ACT CEO Michael Hopkins, reiterated the vital role that the construction sector will play in rebuilding the Territory’s economy, and emphasised the need to support the nearly 20,000 people in our industry.

Additionally, the MBA is encouraged by the Prime Ministers energised approach to the Joyce Review of the vocational education training (VET) system. Ensuring our apprentices have an effective vocational education and training system is crucial to increased productivity and growth. This must include ongoing support for not-for-profit training providers.

The Prime Minister’s approach to VET reform includes:
• Better linking funding to actual forward-looking skills needs, based on what businesses need.
• Simplifying the system, reducing distortions and achieving greater consistency between jurisdictions, and between VET and universities.
• Increasing funding and transparency and performance monitoring. Taxpayers, students and employers should know where the money is going.
• Better coordinate the subsidies, loans and other sources of funding, we’ve got to make the valuable support that is provided is going where it needs to go.

The Minister for Industrial Relations will chair five working groups for discussion, negotiation and, hopefully, gain agreement by September for the following:
• Award simplification, what most small and medium sized businesses deal with with their employees every single day. Enterprise agreement making. We’ve got to get back to the basics.
• Casuals and fixed term employees made even more prescient by recent changes through the Fair Work Commission.
• Compliance and enforcement. People should be paid properly, and unions need to obviously do the right thing, as must employers.
• Greenfields agreements for new enterprises, where the new investment will go and the certainty is needed more so than ever.

The MBA also welcomes the Government’s commitment to review the industrial relations system, including awards and enterprise agreements. A reduction in red tape and a focus on productivity will ensure that the small and family building and construction businesses in the ACT are able to survive COVID-19.

Following modelling undertaken by EY, Master Builders ACT will continue to advocate for additional support from the Federal Government that will help support our industry through this crisis. These measures include a $40,000 New Home Grant, a renovations program, a cladding rectification fund, reduction in development taxes, and increase in institutional spending. Each of these suggestions would have major benefits on the ACT economy.

 

May 26– MBA proposes stimulus package to create 1,890 local construction jobs

MBA’s Stimulus Proposal to Create 1,890 Construction Jobs

Newly released modelling by EY indicates that Master Builders ACT’s proposed package of stimulus for the building and construction industry would create 1,890 jobs across the ACT labour market.

At the beginning of this year 18,600 workers in the ACT relied directly on construction for their employment. Latest ABS employment data indicates that about 1,500 of these jobs have been lost since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis.

Master Builders ACT has called for urgent action from the ACT Government to support employment in the Territory’s second largest private sector industry.

Earlier this month, Master Builders ACT made a comprehensive submission to the ACT Government with sixteen suggestions of how to support the ACT economy and create jobs in the construction industry.

The centrepiece of this submission is a $40,000 New Home Grant which would help stimulate demand for new residential construction.

Modelling undertaken by EY shows Master Builders ACT’s proposals, including the New Home Grant, a renovations program, a cladding rectification fund, reduction in development taxes, and increase in institutional spending, would have major benefits for the ACT economy.

These include:
• The creation of 1,890 jobs right across the ACT labour market
• A lift to ACT’s economy valued at $660 million
• An expansion in construction activity worth $479.8 million
• An additional 493 new homes being built across the territory
• Vital support for construction businesses in the ACT – most of which are small and family owned

Further details of the modelling by EY can be viewed here.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that for every $1 invested in new housing construction, $3 of activity is created for the broader economy. To rebuild the Australian economy, following the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s vital that necessary investments within the building and construction industry are made now by the ACT Government.

Master Builders ACT will continue to advocate on behalf of the industry to call on the ACT Government to support local small and family building and construction businesses, keep up to date on our website and Facebook.

Open and Display Homes with a maximum of ten people allowed in the ACT

Open homes can now take place and Display Homes can re-open, with a maximum of 10 people (excluding staff) in the home at any one time.

For each open home, real estate agents (or private vendors) will be required to record first names and contact details of individuals attending open homes to assist with contact tracing efforts, if required. We recommend that members do the same with display homes.

For more information, click here.

 

May 21- Industrial Relations Update 

Labour Hire Licensing

Despite significant calls for further consultation from the MBA and other industry associations, today the ACT Government has passed the Labour Hire Licensing Bill 2020.

The Bill will burden labour hire companies with a new obligation to obtain a license before employing people, including young apprentices, in the ACT.

The Bill will make it an offence to engage someone through a labour hire company which has not correctly navigated the complex licensing regulation that the ACT is wanting to impose.

The MBA has serious concerns about the introduction of this legislation, which comes only days after ABS data was released showing that employment in the ACT’s construction sector had declined 8%, more than any other State or Territory. No exclusions have been included in the legislation, and it is still unknown whether related entities or group training organisations will be required to comply with a labour hire licensing scheme.

Whilst it is understood that the introduction of a labour hire licensing scheme may have been a post-2016 election promise by ACT Labor to the Unions , it is fiscally irresponsible for the ACT Government to be introducing legislation to regulate employment in the middle of a global pandemic, when the need for flexibility and a reduction in red-tape has never been greater.

The precise detail of the labour hire licensing scheme is yet to be released by the ACT Government. It is anticipated that the scheme will have a transition period, ending on or around 1 July 2021. We will keep members informed.

Enterprise Agreements
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, changes have been made to the notice requirements that an employer must give to employees, should they wish to vary an Enterprise Agreement. It has been determined that any variations made with the reduction in notice requirement will have a “life” of 12 months, before reverting to the original agreement.

Members are encouraged to contact the MBA if they have queries regarding variations to their current enterprise agreement, and/or are considering varying their current enterprise agreement. Clauses that Members may consider varying include the Christmas shutdown clause, as well as those relating to annual wage increases.

Award Changes
We have previously reported on changes to the Clerks – Private Sector Award 2010 and foreshadowed changes to the allowances contained in the Building and Construction On-Site Award 2010 (the Building and Construction Award) as at 1 July 2020.

Several allowances will be removed entirely from the Building and Construction Award. These allowances include but are not limited to the special and industry allowances, hot and cold work, confined space, asbestos eradication, height work, towers allowance.

Several allowances will also be introduced to replace the abolished allowances above, including the introduction of an Industry allowance for the Residential Building and Construction Industry which is to be distinct from other sectors (General Building/ Civil/ Metal and Engineering) of industry.

The Residential Building and Construction Industry is to be defined as residential building works in relation to a single occupancy or dual occupancy residential building which is not a multistorey building which will, when complete, consist of five or more storey levels.

To view a summary of the changes to the allowances payable under the Building and Construction General On-Site Award 2010, click here.

There may be further changes to the minimum wage(s) payable under the Awards as part of the annual review. It is unlikely that a decision will be made by the Fair Work Commission prior to mid-June, which does not allow a lot of time for our members to prepare for the pay increase and to update systems.

Members are encouraged to have a general sense of how the changes might affect their businesses and take preliminary measures in anticipation of these changes. We recommend that you continue to monitor these Member Alerts for announcements.

Secure Local Jobs Code

It has been almost 18 months since the Secure Local Jobs Code was enacted, and some members will likely be commencing their renewal application shortly.

Our team has been receiving an increased volume of calls regarding Secure Local Jobs Code obligations recently, and we wanted to reiterate that:

• The Obligations of a Code Certified Entity are set out in Part 3 of the Code and it is the duty of the Code Certified Entity to ensure that it and its subcontractors (including those down the chain) are compliant with its obligations under the Code at all times.
• The Secure Local Jobs Code does not require you to have an enterprise agreement.
• There is no obligation in the Secure Local Jobs Code that requires you to allow a union official or representative or delegate to participate in workplace inductions. You must ensure that you comply with your obligations pursuant to section 14 of the Code, but this does not require union attendance.
• You must ensure that all your subcontractors, and their subcontractors and so on, hold and maintain a Secure Local Jobs Code certificate on all Territory Funded Work (ACT Government jobs). As a principal contractor or subcontractor, if your subcontractors (or sub-sub-contractors) are required to hold a Secure Local Jobs Code certificate and do not, you may receive demerit points as part of the compliance and enforcement.
• You must provide Contact Details for all Territory Funded Work. This information can easily be provided online.
• As a Code Certified Entity, you must also comply with any applicable industrial laws, instruments as well as any order or direction of a Court or Tribunal and advise the Registrar in writing of any adverse rulings made against it or its subcontractors in accordance with Section 11 of the Code.
If you have any queries about the Secure Local Jobs Code, please contact our Member Services Team on (02) 6175 5900 or via canberra@mba.org.au.

Major Projects over $5 million – WHS Amendments

We would like to remind members of the additional requirements that are mandated in the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 for major construction projects over $5 million, that have a contract date on or after 1 January 2019. To ensure you comply with your ongoing obligations, the MBA has prepared information on the obligations of a principal contractor on projects over $5 million.

If you have any queries please contact our Member Services Team on (02) 6175 5900 or via canberra@mba.org.au.

Changes to Portable Long Service Leave
On 20 May, the ACT Government passed legislation that will allow eligible Canberra workers to access their portable long service leave early, in the event they have had their employment affected or need to take COVID-19 related leave.

These changes were called for by the MBA to be part of the ACT Government’s COVID-19 stimulus response, and we welcome this decision. The amendments will provide much-needed comfort to those employees in the ACT who have had their employment affected by COVID-19, as well as their employers.

You can read more about the specific changes in the Minister’s Media Release, which is available here.


May 19- Economic update and MBA calls for LVC relief

Economic Update

A range of new economic data reveals that the Territory’s construction industry is already feeling the effects of the COVID-19 led economic downturn.

As at February 2020 the ACT’s construction industry employed 18,658 people, with three-quarters in full time employment. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) employment data released today shows that there had been a 8.0% reduction in employment in the ACT construction industry from 14 March to 2 May, the largest decline of any Australian State or Territory. According to the ABS 9,500 jobs were lost in the ACT across all industries in April alone.

Nationwide data shows that those aged 70 and over experienced the largest decline in jobs and wages, followed by the 20-29 age cohort.

The employment data supports survey results from the ABS which reveal eight in ten construction businesses are registered for, or intend to register for, the JobKeeper Payment, and over half report that the JobKeeper Payment has influenced their decision to continue to employ staff. Across all businesses in Australia registration for JobKeeper is lower than for the construction industry with six in ten having registered or intending to register.

The ACT is not expected to be immune from further economic impacts resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. To support job creation in the ACT urgent action is required.

Last week the MBA made a submission to the ACT Government calling for 16 stimulus measures be implemented to support the local building and construction industry. Suggestions included increasing the capital works program, increasing investment in public and social housing, and introducing a time-limited waiver of LVC charges.

Next week the MBA will be announcing details of a $40,000 New Home Owner Grant to encourage investment in new homes.

However, the ACT Government should also be using the limited time in the Legislative Assembly to progress legislative reforms which protect public safety and support economic development. The Government’s pre-COVID reform agenda must be revisited, and any new regulation which will add cost to businesses, introduce a barrier to employment, or increase to cost to run a business should be shelved.

The Territory’s building and construction sector, which comprises small and family businesses, stands ready to lead the ACT’s economic recovery.

Now is a critical time for the ACT Government to support the local business community. The future of the 5,500 local building and construction businesses are in the hands of the priorities set by the ACT Government over the coming months

Request for Lease Variation Charge relief

Yesterday, Master Builders ACT, HIA and The Property Council of Australia issued a joint letter to the ACT Chief Minister requesting Lease Variation Charge (LVC) relief.

The letter highlighted the economic impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic which will create a significant national-wide economic downturn. MBA, HIA and PCA called for the ACT Government to grant a full 100% economic stimulus remission of LVC payments for defined approved developments.

This included the suggestion of an immediate, time limited remission of the Lease Variation Charge in order to have an immediate impact on the commencement of construction projects as well as encouraging the fast tracking of projects in the pipeline, further supporting already announced economic survival stimulus measures.
To read the full letter, click here.

MBA ACT Virtual Member Events - Industrial Relations requirements

Looking for essential information on obligations in regard to record keeping and pay slips, protections at the workplace, wages and entitlements, and termination of employment?
Join us for our first virtual member workshop this Thursday 21 May with MBA Industrial Relations and Legal Adviser, Malvin Khaira. This virtual member workshop is free for all members and will be held at 8am – 9am over Microsoft Teams.

Register here and if you have a question you’d like answered, include it in the registration form.

For a full list of our upcoming virtual workshops, click here.

Statement from ACT Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerryn Coleman

The ACT Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerryn Coleman has urged Canberrans to remember their responsibilities as restrictions ease in the Territory.

In a statement issued last Friday 15 May, Dr Coleman said, “Just because restrictions have eased, it doesn’t mean our responsibilities have. As a community, we must adjust to the new way of life where physical distancing and good hygiene is the best way to fight this virus,” Dr Coleman said.

“This weekend Canberrans will be able to start doing some of the things they love and enjoy such as going to a playground or park, grabbing a bite to eat at a restaurant or café or getting back into non-contact community and social sport.

“However in doing so, Canberrans must continue to avoid large crowds, maintain physical distancing of 1.5 metres from others, practise good hand and respiratory hygiene and stay at home if unwell.”

View the full statement here.

The MBA is here to support you and your business, call us if you have a question that you need assistance with on (02) 6175 5900 or alternatively, you can email canberra@mba.org.au.

May 12- An update from Master Builders ACT CEO, Michael Hopkins

Last Friday, following a National Cabinet meeting, the Prime Minister announced that restrictions across the country would be lifted in a three stage plan. This is excellent news for the residential sector on the road to recovery as display homes and auctions are able to resume in person across the country. We hope that this will encourage residential building activity as we continue to promote the incredible work of our members and instill confidence in consumers that they can still commence their projects.

The outstanding increased hygiene and safety practices which we have seen from our members has contributed greatly to our industries ability to remain in operation during this time. I would like to thank each and every one of our members who have been implementing these measures. While restrictions are set to lift here in the ACT, following the staged approach, hygiene and social distancing measures must still be adhered to on site. A reminder, now is not the time to become complacent and for industry to continue the great work experienced over the past few months.

On this road to recovery we will be continuing to advocate to government and highlight the importance of local work remaining in the hands of local contractors.

You may have seen our COVID-19 member FAQs over recent weeks which cover issues such as safety on site during this time, mental health and wellbeing, business continuity matters and industrial relations advice. This FAQ document has been updated to include further common queries from our members. I would encourage you to read these FAQs here and to contact us if you need assistance.

Lastly, the Federal Government announced yesterday a new set of guidelines for Commonwealth departments and agencies to work collaboratively with suppliers, to ensure businesses continuity and ensure private sector supply chains are supported. The guidelines include:

  • Relaxing or waiving some contractual rights where appropriate, to address COVID-19 circumstances;
  • Generally avoiding exercising of termination rights or enforcing liquidated damage provisions; and
  • Revision of some payment arrangements.

The guidance also notes that the Commonwealth Government expects agencies to pay suppliers faster than the maximum 20 day payment terms, and that they are in the process of making payments of electronic invoices within five days, where suppliers and agencies have adopted e-invoicing procedures consistent with the international standard.

We thank the ACT Government for also improving payment times to local industry, which has greatly assisted cash flow management.

While the announcement does not place any mandate or pressure on private businesses, it is important that Governments act as ‘model-clients’. We encourage everyone in the construction industry to pay their bills on time so that cash flows throughout the supply chain.

The MBA is here to support you and your business, call us if you have a question that you need assistance with on (02) 6175 5900 or alternatively, you can email canberra@mba.org.au.

May 5– Industry calls for large scale projects to commence

Master Builders ACT, The Canberra Business Chamber and The Property Council of Australia have issued a letter to Chief Minister Andrew Barr and a joint media release which details the need for substantial public investment to prevent the ACT economy suffering a longer and deeper downturn than necessary.

Included in the letter was a call for urgent commencement of planning, design and construction of an upgraded National Convention Centre, Canberra Sports Stadium and the EPIC redevelopment to support the Territory’s construction tourism and events industries.

Major projects like these have already been endorsed by the ACT Government in the Infrastructure Plan released last year. Bringing them forward can give an immediate jobs boost for local engineers, architects, builders and subcontractors, and help support the recovery of our tourism and events sector which has been decimated by the COVID-19 shutdowns.

This call to Government coincides with new data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics which details the anticipated impacts of COVID-19 on Australian construction businesses:

  • 77% of businesses anticipate reduced cash flow will negatively impact their business
  • 73% of businesses anticipate reduced demand for goods and services
  • 58% of businesses anticipate supply chain uncertainty

The joint media release can be viewed here.

Updated Member FAQs

Following additional queries from members, we have updated the member FAQ document, which includes new information on:

  • Is there anything I can do to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 through my workplace?
  • What do I do if one of my workers is diagnosed with COVID-19?
  • If someone on my site is diagnosed with COVID-19, do I need to shut down the site?

Click here to read the updated FAQ document.


May 4- Sector Council Meetings Now Online

In line with Australian Government advice on COVID-19, we have commenced hosting Sector Council Meetings remotely to ensure appropriate social distancing measures are adopted.

What are Sector Council Meetings?
Master Builders ACT Sector Council Meetings are an excellent opportunity for MBA Members to meet and discuss issues relevant to their sector (Residential, Commercial, Civil & CCF, Suppliers & Subcontractors and Professional). The MBA will provide an update on the state of the industry and the current advocacy priorities being discussed with ACT Government. Guest speakers will be announced prior to each meeting.

How can I be involved?
We encourage all of our members to become involved in Sector Council Meetings. Registering and attending these meetings has never been easier with the introduction of virtual Sector Council Meetings through Microsoft Teams.

Further information
A full calendar of 2020 Sector Council Meetings is available to view here.
RSVPs are essential and registrations for meetings in May are now live.

For more information, please contact:
Bethany Mason - Marketing & Events Coordinator
E: bmason@mba.org.au
Ph: (02) 6175 5968

 

April 30-Master Builders economic forecasts for the building and construction industry 

As the government looks towards the easing of restrictions, the economic recovery effort as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic is also becoming a strong focus across the nation.

Many industries have been hit hard as a result of the pandemic and for some, such as the building and construction industry, the full effects are yet to be felt.

Master Builders Australia has released revised building and construction industry forecasts which provide an initial detailed analysis of the predicted impact on the industry, as a result of the COVID-19 economic shock.
The forecasts detail that nationally, New Home Building is expected to drop to 116,000 next year which represents a 27.3% drop from Master Builders previous forecasts.

From the forecasts, it can be noted that in comparison to previous Master Builders forecasts, a decline in new homes being built in the ACT is predicted for the next five years. During 2020/21 it’s anticipated that we will see the largest decline in new home construction.

Commercial building activity will also take a hit over the coming years. In contrast to previous Master Builders forecasts, commercial building activity in the ACT will see a loss until 2023/24, where it will begin to recover. The greatest loss is predicted for 2020/21 when commercial building activity will decrease by around 20% from over $1 billion to just over $800 million.

While the governments, locally and nationally, have delivered some financial support to our members, we are calling for more to be done to ensure the industry can lead the economic recovery effort.

That is why we will continue to call on government to:

  • Keep the industry working. Our main message to the Federal and ACT Government’s is to continue to support the building and construction industry by allowing it to continue to operate. Once the current work in progress is completed, our industry will be looking for more work opportunities. Hence, our primary call to the ACT Government will be to increase its capital works spending to support all industry sectors (residential, commercial and civil).
  • Remove red tape. In order for projects in the planning phase to be quickly brought to market, we will be calling on the ACT Government to assist by speeding up development approvals, quickly processing leasing and unit titling applications, and fast-tracking as many regulatory processes as possible.
  • Support local business. Finally, now is the time for all stakeholders, including governments and industry, to support each other and engage local builders, subcontractors, suppliers and consultants. We will be advocating that ACT Government only engage local teams to undertake Government work.

Master Builders Australia also launched “Rebuilding Australia” – a series of reports that will play a key role in their advocacy to governments for stimulus measures and the implementation of the Action Plan targeted at sustaining the industry and rebuilding the economy. The first report in the series summarises the work that they have done to date in their advocacy efforts.

April 28- Alternative eligibility tests for JobKeeper payment

Alternative eligibility tests for JobKeeper payment
The Australian Tax Office has released information on when businesses can use 'alternative eligibility tests' for the JobKeeper payment. We have outlined some possible scenarios below in which a business may be able to use the ‘alternative test’. The information below is a summary of only a few instances, please refer to the legislative instrument here for more information.

Scenario #1 - Businesses less than 12 months old
I am a small residential builder and my business is a new business – we’ve only been in operation for ten months so I can’t show a decline in GST turnover year-on-year, is there a way for me to show a loss in GST turnover?

The alternative test:
Monthly comparison - Instead of comparing your GST turnover with the same month the year prior, if your business was in operation before 1 March 2020, you can compare the average of your monthly GST turnover.

The second alternative test:
Quarterly comparison – Instead of comparing your GST turnover with the same quarter the year prior, if your business was in operation before 1 March 2020, you can compare the average of your quarterly GST turnover by multiplying you average monthly GST turnover by three.

Scenario #2 – Substantial growth in turnover

My landscaping business was rapidly growing prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and as a result, our turnover was higher than usual. Since the pandemic, we have suffered a loss in turnover. Is there an alternative test that I may be able to use to determine if we are eligible for JobKeeper payments?

The alternative test:
A business can use this test if it has experienced an increase in turnover of:

  • 50% or more in the 12 months immediately before the turnover test period, or
  • 25% or more in the 6 months immediately before the turnover period, or
  • 12.5% or more in the 3 months immediately before the turnover test period.

The alternative test can be conducted using either:

  • A monthly comparison – A business may choose to use the three months immediately before the turnover period to determine their eligibility for the JobKeeper payments.
  • A quarterly comparison – A business may choose to use the average GST turnover of the three months immediately before the turnover period to determine their eligibility for the JobKeeper payments.

Scenario #3 – Irregular turnover
I run a medium sized commercial building company and our turnover is irregular, some months we have a lot more work than other months. Is there a way for me to apply an alternative test to find out if I am eligible for the JobKeeper payments?

The alternative test:

This test is applicable for your business if, for the quarters ending in the 12 months before the turnover test period, the business' lowest turnover is not more than 50% of the highest turnover period. The business' turnover cannot be cyclical.
The alternative test can be conducted using either:

  • A monthly comparison – A business may choose to use the average monthly GST for the 12 months prior to the turnover test period
  • A quarterly comparison – A business may choose to use triple the average monthly GST for the 12 months prior to the turnover test period

Extension of time to enrol for the JobKeeper scheme
Enrolments for the JobKeeper scheme have been extended, meaning you can still apply up until 31 May 2020.

If you enrol by 31 May you will still be able to claim for the fortnights in April and May, provided you meet all the eligibility requirements for each of those fortnights. This includes having paid your employees by the appropriate date for each fortnight.

For more information, click here.

We will continue to keep our members informed on COVID-19 related issues, if you would like to speak to the team at Master Builders ACT, please contact us on (02) 6175 5900 or at canberra@mba.org.au.

April 23- Continuing your business beyond COVID-19 

Continuing your business beyond COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact businesses across Australia. It’s vital for business owners to take the time to prepare and implement strategies to ensure your business survives during and beyond this time of uncertainty.

In addition to our previous tips for businesses survival strategies, we have provided some further things that you can do this weekend to ensure your business survives:

  1. Marketing your business – Throughout the Coronavirus pandemic and during the road to recovery, it’s more critical than ever for your business to market services and products accordingly. If your business is reopening after a forced or voluntary shut down, it’s a good idea to consider how you will let customers know of your reopening. Using a digital platform to do this such as a targeted social media campaign or engaging a local digital marketing consultant could be of great benefit to your business.
  2. Build your networks – Knowing you have a supportive network to turn to for advice during this time can be a big relief. Keep communicating with your support networks and speak with other small businesses to share ideas and innovative practices.
  3. Communicate – Are you having trouble making payments? Reach out to your bank to discuss extending your line of credit or deferring loan payments. Do you need to discuss payment terms? Open the conversation with your debtors and creditors to see what your options are. Are you working on projects that need to come to fruition? Speak with your clients to sure-up works in progress. It’s vital to keep communication lines, with a variety of stakeholders, open during this time.
  4. Review & register for the Government stimulus packages – If you haven’t done so already, review the Federal Government and ACT Government stimulus packages that have been announced and check whether you’re eligible. New guidelines have been released in the last fortnight about the JobKeeper scheme, as well as a Code of Conduct for Commercial Tenancies.
  5. COVID-19 infection control training – While Australia continues to ‘flatten the curve’ of the Coronavirus, it’s important to note that the virus may come back in a series of waves. This is why it’s a great idea to gather more knowledge on the virus and how it can be prevented and controlled within your workplace. The Australian Government Department of Health and Aspen Medical have teamed up to provide the public with COVID-19 infection control training which covers signs and symptoms and how to keep yourself safe.

Revised Training Course Fees

ACT Building and Construction Industry Training Fund Authority has revised current rebates for training programs to support the Building and Construction industry during COVID-19. MBA Group Training will fully pass on the TFA rebate to students which will mean course fees will reduce by close to 40% from 22 April until 31 December 2020. The reduction in fees for students, will allow Master Builders to continue to provide training to the industry while maintaining social distancing rules for High Risk Licence training. Remote learning will be offered where possible to students for courses in:

  • Asbestos Awareness
  • General Construction Induction training (White card)
  • Workplace Impairment
  • Certificate IV in Building Construction Building
  • Certificate IV in Work Health Safety
  • Health and Safety Representative
  • Health and Safety Committee
  • WHS for Supervisors and Managers in the Building and Construction Industry
  • Mental Health Awareness Training

For more information please contact training@mba.org.au.

Temporary Insolvency Changes
Members are reminded that changes were made to insolvency laws on 25 March 2020. These will be in place for a period of six months. Information about the specific changes is available here.

In summary, the changes are:

  • The threshold to issue a Statutory Demand is increased to $20,000
  • The timeframe to respond to a Statutory Demand is extended to 6 months
  • The threshold to issue a Bankruptcy Notice is increased to $20,000
  • The timeframe to respond to a Bankruptcy Notice is extended to 6 months
  • Directors will be temporarily relieved of personal liability for insolvent trading

Decline in ACT Construction Jobs

The ABS has released data which reveals a 3.4% decline in the total number of building and construction jobs across the ACT in the last six weeks. This is in comparison to a 5.5% decline in employment across all industries in the Territory over the last six weeks.
Results of a new Master Builders survey of its members shows that in the ACT, 73% have seen a substantial fall in forward work on their books of 40% on average.
Master Builders ACT has issued a media release which discusses the impacts of these figures and includes details of what we are calling on the ACT Government to do to assist the local building and construction industry. The release can be read here.

Updated fever testing template
We have made minor corrections and updates to the Fever Testing Procedure that you can access here.
The purpose of this procedure is to provide a guide, that you can adapt to your business, to assist you in implementing Fever Testing on your sites if you choose to do so.

MBA Australia podcast
Master Builders Australia have released a new episode of their podcast. This episode is called "Open for Business with Mark Little from Little Constructions” and focuses on how builders can keep running their businesses during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Mark discusses practical steps he has been taking to keep building, from how he is managing his sites, managing clients and how he is continuing to promote his business.

Listen to this episode here.

We will continue to keep our members informed on COVID-19 related issues, if you would like to speak to the team at Master Builders ACT, please contact us on (02) 6175 5900 or at canberra@mba.org.au.

April 21- COVID-19 Update on Jobkeeper, Enterprise Agreements, Unpaid Pandemic Leave, and a Safety Update on Mental Health

JobKeeper Payments and Eligibility
The Master Builders team has produced a comprehensive guide to the JobKeeper payments and eligibility requirements, which is available for download here.

The JobKeeper scheme applies from 30 March 2020 to 27 September 2020. To be eligible, a business must demonstrate a 30% loss in turnover (assuming the turnover is under $1 billion). The Australian Government has released further information about the JobKeeper scheme which we recommend you read.

To register for JobKeeper, you must do so through the ATO’s Business Portal, in ATO online services using myGov if you are a sole trader, or through a registered tax or BAS agent. We recommend you do this sooner rather than later, as your eligibility to claim from 30 March 2020 may be impacted if you delay registration. You are also required to provide your employees with a notice advising that you intend to apply for the JobKeeper scheme, and you should ensure they return a signed copy of the ATO JobKeeper Employee Nomination Notice to you, confirming that they are an eligible employee.

Being eligible for the JobKeeper scheme also means as an employer has the ability to stand down employees, direct them to take annual leave, and change the hours worked and salary (provided that the hourly rate does not change). Any changes to employment conditions should only be made after seeking advice, either from the MBA Member Services Team on 6175 5900 or your legal representative.

Enterprise Agreements – Notice Required
Last week, the Federal Government made regulations that reduces the amount of notice an employer has to give its employees when seeking to vary an Enterprise Agreement, to ONE day.
An employer will still need to ensure that its employees genuinely agreed to the proposed changes, before they will be accepted by the Fair Work Commission.
Employees will still be able to vote “no” in relation to any proposed changes, and they will still need to be submitted to and approved by the Fair Work Commission. If you are concerned about your Enterprise Agreement, or are considering making changes, we recommend that you contact our Member Services Team on 6175 5900 to discuss your options.

Unpaid Pandemic Leave
In response to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on businesses and employment across Australia, the Fair Work Commission (Commission) has made determinations to temporarily vary 99 Awards. There is no currently change to Construction specific awards, including the On-Site Award.
For the full list of Awards subject to the above changes, please visit the Fair Work Website.
You can read more about the introduction of unpaid pandemic leave and changes to the Awards here.

Safety- Mental Health
The mental health, safety and well-being of yourself and your workers should continue to remain a top priority. It is essential for employers to identify, assess, control and review risks to the physical and mental health of workers, including those now working remotely. A mentally healthy workplace (and remote workplace) can be achieved with positive activities, open communications, providing information and resources and consulting with staff.
The impact of COVID-19 to mental health across the country, has been astronomical. According to Suicide Prevention Australia, the suicide rates in Australia are predicted to increase significantly, highlighting the importance of why we all need to do our part to eliminate or minimise the risks to mental health in the workplace.

  • Working from Home: We have created a document that outlines simple tips for having a productive workday and maintaining quality family time. To view the document, click here.
  • Psychological and Physical Risk Assessment: You can access a template psychological and physical risk assessment, developed by MBA ACT, which can be used as an example risk assessment and features some suggested controls that you can implement. While this list is not exhaustive, it is designed to prompt thinking, consultation and action during the COVID-19 crises to help keep our Industry safe. Click here to view the physical and psychological risk assessment template.
  • Mental Health Resources and Support: We have developed a list of resources available to you during these uncertain times. Click here to view the list of resources and please don’t hesitate to reach out if you need assistance. You can call us on 02 6175 5900 or email canberra@mba.org.au.

There are also a range of free support and crisis services available for workers and their families, specifically around COVID-19 impacts. Click here to view the list of support services.

Reminder of social distancing and hygiene
In order to ensure the ongoing operation of the building and construction industry, it is vital that every member of the industry operate their work sites in a safe manner, which includes abiding by the government’s new enforcements to stop the spread of COVID-19. This starts with getting the basics right, such as practising good hygiene and following the social distancing rules.
We encourage all our members to look at the new rules relating to COVID-19 and to read more information here about what you can do to protect yourself and your colleagues.

Over the coming weeks we will be sharing further resources around the ‘new normal’ and recovery and planning.

April 15 – COVID-19 Update: Unit titling approvals and appointment of COVID-19 Local Business Commissioner

Unit Titling Approvals
As part of the round 2 ACT economic survival package, the ACT Government announced it would be expediting development application and unit titling approvals. Members experiencing delays or wanting to discuss community title applications, licensing, lease variations and LVC issues can contact the relevant project office directly.
Contact Jonathan Teasdale
Senior Director
Planning Delivery
Ph (02) 6207 0316

Brendan Smyth Appointed COVID-19 Local Business Commissioner
Brendan Smyth has been appointed by the ACT Government as the new COVID-19 Local Business Commissioner.
Mr Smyth, who will also continue as the ACT Commissioner for International Engagement during this time, will be responsible for working with commercial landlords and tenants to mediate mutually agreeable outcomes relating to changes to commercial lease arrangement. The Commissioner will also provide advice to the Government on systemic issues facing the business community in the ACT as we deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Further information about the ACT Government’s support for local businesses can be found here.

Penalties for social distancing non-compliance in ACT and NSW
Both the ACT Government and NSW Government have released updated public health orders which are effective as of 31 March 2020.

The building and construction industry depends on you to ensure that hygiene and social distancing remains a top priority, on and off site to allow the industry to continue to operate.

There are a range of penalties for non-compliance of these public health orders which differ in each state and territory. To view the ACT and NSW public health orders and penalties for non-compliance, click the links below.
Click here to view the ACT Public Health (Non-Essential Gatherings) Emergency Direction 2020.
Click here to view the NSW Public Health Orders.

Master Builders Australia COVID-19 Survey
Master Builders Australia are conducting a survey and want to hear from our members on a variety of issues relating to COVID-19 and your business.
The survey takes approximately five minutes to complete and will provide MBA Australia with vital information to assist them in their advocacy efforts.
Click here to start the survey.

Reminder of social distancing and hygiene
In order to ensure the ongoing operation of the building and construction industry, it is vital that every member of the industry operate their work sites in a safe manner, which includes abiding by the government’s new enforcements to stop the spread of COVID-19. This starts with getting the basics right, such as practising good hygiene and following the social distancing rules.

We encourage all our members to look at the new rules relating to COVID-19 and to read more information here about what you can do to protect yourself and your colleagues.

We will continue to keep our members informed on COVID-19 related issues, if you would like to speak to the team at Master Builders ACT, please contact us on (02) 6175 5900 or at canberra@mba.org.au.

April 14 - A message from our CEO, Michael Hopkins

On behalf of Master Builders ACT, I would like to extend my sincerest thanks and appreciation to every MBA member who continues to comply with the social distancing and hygiene measures which have been implemented as a result of COVID-19.

Without this level of excellent compliance that has been demonstrated by our members and the construction industry at large, we would not be in the position that we are in today. The building and construction industry continues to operate and we remain successful in our fight against COVID-19 on site.

We understand that this is a very difficult and uncertain time for many of our members as the industry has faced a variety of challenges throughout this year already. Our members have always been and will remain our priority and the success of your business is our focus.

That is why we will continue to advocate on your behalf to Governments, to:

  • Keep the industry working. Our main message to the Federal and ACT Government’s is to continue to support the building and construction industry by allowing it to continue to operate. Once the current work in progress is completed, our industry will be looking for more work opportunities. Hence, our primary call to the ACT Government will be to increase its capital works spending to support all industry sectors (residential, commercial and civil).
  • Remove red tape. In order for projects in the planning phase to be quickly brought to market, we will be calling on the ACT Government to assist by speeding up development approvals, quickly processing leasing and unit titling applications, and fast-tracking as many regulatory processes as possible.
  • Support local business. Finally, now is the time for all stakeholders, including governments and industry, to support each other and engage local builders, subcontractors, suppliers and consultants. We will be advocating that ACT Government only engage local teams to undertake Government work.

We are proud to be advocating on behalf of our members and will continue to provide you with regular updates.
So far, we have had great success in using our various communications channels to reach not only our members, but also the building and construction industry more broadly. These regular communications have spread the message far and wide to alert members of our industry of their obligations during COVID-19.

I am pleased to report that our current open rates on mass email communications are averaging a 41% open rate, which is significantly higher than the industry average of 21%.

During this time, our COVID-19 specific web page has also received a large amount of traffic over the last month, making it our most viewed web page since 1 March 2020.

As we continue to progress through these challenging times, I encourage our members to reach out to the MBA. We are here to help you in any way that we can, whether that be with industrial relations support or work health and safety advice.

Contact us today on (02) 6175 5900 or at canberra@mba.org.au.
Michael Hopkins
Master Builders ACT CEO

April 9– COVID-19 Update: MBA Member FAQ's Updated

Updated Member FAQs

Master Builders ACT has released an updated version of the COVID-19 Member FAQ document. Following additional queries from members, we have since updated this FAQ document to include the following:
• What can I do to make sure that people coming onto my site are compliant with the social distancing and hygiene rules?
• I am having trouble locating the necessary PPE gear to help protect my workers from COVID-19. What can I do?
• What is the “JobKeeper” scheme and does it apply to me?
• Are my workers covered by workers’ compensation if they contract COVID-19?
• How many people can we have in a work vehicle? Can our staff still carpool?
• I am eligible for the JobKeeper program. What does this mean?
Click here to read the updated FAQ document

Update on Commercial Tenancies
Yesterday, the National Cabinet agreed that states and territories will introduce a mandatory Code of Conduct (the Code) to implement the principles agreed by National Cabinet on 3 April 2020. The purpose of the Code is to impose a set of good faith leasing principles for application to commercial tenancies (including retail, office and industrial) between owners/operators/other landlords and tenants, in circumstances where the tenant is a small-medium sized business (annual turnover of up to $50 million) and is an eligible business for the purpose of the Commonwealth Government’s JobKeeper program.
To view the full message from the Minister, click here.

Information on Job Keeper Subsidy
Last night, Parliament passed the Job Keeper Subsidy legislation. Unfortunately, the Government is yet to release the finer details of the Job Keeper program, including important information to help businesses determine whether they are in fact eligible to receive the wage subsidy and apply the new workplace rules. MBA is hopeful that this information is released by the Government today. Once it is available, we will advise members.
Social distancing and hygiene reminder
In order to ensure the ongoing operation of the building and construction industry, it is vital that every member of the industry operate their work sites in a safe manner, which includes abiding by the government’s new enforcements to stop the spread of COVID-19. This starts with getting the basics right, such as practising good hygiene and following the social distancing rules.
We encourage all our members to look at the new rules relating to COVID-19 and to read more information here about what you can do to protect yourself and your colleagues.
We will continue to keep our members informed on COVID-19 related issues, if you would like to speak to the team at Master Builders ACT, please contact us on (02) 6175 5900 or at canberra@mba.org.au.

SafeWork Australia Resources
SafeWork Australia has released additional resources which we encourage members to access and read.

They are:

April 8– COVID-19 Update: Residential Safety Checklist and Member Survey Results

MBA member survey results on the ACT Government Survival Package
Master Builders ACT surveyed our members between the 3rd and the 6th April to gauge their views on the ACT Government survival package that was announced on Thursday 2nd April.
Overwhelmingly, 91.2% of members believe that the COVID-19 crisis will have an impact or significant impact on their business, however a small number of members believe they will experience a positive impact.
Only 30% of members surveyed believed the ACT Government survival measures announced by the ACT Government will help their business survive the COVID-19 crisis.
Members identified the following additional measures as being necessary to support the local construction sector

  • 6 month waiver of commercial rates (30%)
  • 6 month waiver of payroll tax (42%)
  • Waiver of lease variation charges for projects ready to commence construction (37%)
  • Additional capital works expenditure (52%)

Other suggestions to help support the local construction sector included:

  • Fast track the awarding of tenders for ACT Government works
  • Speed up the development approval system
  • Remove red tape to help businesses start work and keep the industry moving forward

MBA Advocacy
The COVID-19 crisis is having a significant impact on the ACT economy and will no doubt lead to a downturn in construction activity over the coming months. To help MBA members survive the COVID-19 crisis we are making every effort to help our members continue to operate safe, productive and successful businesses.

We are presented with an enormous challenge and opportunity. As the nation’s second largest industry, we are ‘in the box seat’ to drive the economic activity needed to see our country through this crisis.

There is a lot that our industry can do to help itself, including:

  • Complying with the hygiene and social distancing rules
  • The entire building supply chain, including government and private clients, must make sure that contracts are varied in a fair manner to take account of the delays that will result from slower work
  • Accessing the ACT and Federal support that is available
  • Contacting the MBA if you have a question or need further support

However, the ACT Government can do more to support our industry. Our advocacy efforts are focused on calling on the ACT Government to:

  • Speed up the process of awarding ACT Government tenders and bring forward additional capital works expenditure to provide a pipeline of work for the local industry
  • Award ACT Government tenders to local contractors and enforce the use of local subcontractors, suppliers and professional consultants
  • Speed up regulatory processes, in particular development assessment and unit titling so that private projects can be brought to market and completed as soon as possible
  • Expand its financial support for local business, for example by providing a six month waiver of commercial rates and payroll tax, and waiving lease variation charges for projects ready to commence construction

Of course, our primary call is for the building and construction industry to continue to remain open for business. To achieve this everyone must work together to ensure the hygiene and social distancing rules are complied with.

Residential Safety Checklist
Master Builders ACT has created a checklist for contractors to utilise prior to entering any home for urgent repairs as well as an accompanying handout for contractors to give to the occupants.
The checklist should be completed by contractors who are required to enter private residences for the purposes of undertaking urgent repairs or maintenance to ensure the health and safety of themselves and the occupants.

Master Builders Australia COVID-19 Survey
Master Builders Australia are conducting a survey and want to hear from our members on a variety of issues relating to COVID-19 and your business.
The survey takes approximately five minutes to complete and will provide MBA Australia with vital information to assist them in their advocacy efforts.
Click here to start the survey.

Master Builders Australia Podcast
Master Builders Australia have released a special episode of their podcast which focuses on COVID-19 on construction sites. In the episode, host Max Rafferty speaks to Senior Safety Coordinator for Master Builders Western Australia, Michelle DeGalt-Rohlf about some of the practical things that builders can do on site to manage risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Listen to the podcast here.

Job Keeper Support Package
Today the Australian Government’s Job Keeper Support Package was introduced into Federal Parliament. Master Builders ACT will be releasing more information on this for our members in tomorrow’s member alert, once the final legislation has passed.
In the meantime, employers can find more information on the package including a summary of the payments, eligibility criteria to receive the payments, how the payments will work and when the payments will begin in the Job Keeper Fact Sheet here.

April 8 Safety Alert

Electric Shock
Following an electric shock incident in Canberra, MBA ACT would like to remind members of the dangers of water and electricity.
While sanitising the controls of an alimak, a worker sustained an electric shock, as the spray sanitiser entered the control panel, causing a short. To prevent the risk of shock, remember to use only wipes or cleaning cloths on electrical equipment.
We would like to commend all those for doing their part in sanitising their sites and equipment to stop the spread.

COVID-19 Training
The Australian Government has introduced COVID-19 Training. This training is targeted to healthcare workers, care professionals and frontline workers, however, is open to anyone to undertake. The training covers the basics of COVID-19 and infection control.
MBA ACT recommends PCBU’s, safety professionals, site supervisors and any others that are interested, log on and complete the training. A certificate of completion will be given at the completion of the online course.

Social distancing while operating plant
There are some high-risk work activities that are designed to be undertaken by more than one person, to ensure the safety of those involved, this may include, for example, the operation of a scissor lift.
All steps should be taken to ensure compliance with social distancing. Where this can not be safely managed and tasks cannot be postponed or substituted, ensure that there are adequate controls in place to eliminate or minimise the risk of infection between workers. This may include additional training, provision of additional PPE (such as respirators with positive airflow, disposable gloves, gowns, decontamination area).

Social distancing should be the priority.

If you have any WHS enquiries, please contact us on (02) 6175 5900.


April 7- COVID-19 Update: WHS Q&A and printable site posters

A message from ACT Work Safety Commissioner Greg Jones
I encourage all employers in these difficult times to inform themselves of the current health situation through the ACT Health website www.health.act.gov.au, and based on this information together with the specific activities of their business, conduct a risk assessment of their activities and modify their business practices based on their risk assessment outcomes. This should be reviewed on a regular basis.

As a minimum, employers should ensure their workers undertake their own personal hygiene (hand washing, no handshakes etc), keep personal distancing (1.5 metres); ensure the maximum number of persons is observed where relevant, cleansing/disinfecting internal areas where people attend, need to do work or where they interact with customers (such as counters, doorhandles, desks, workbenches, tables, bathrooms or kitchens) as well as general steps to minimise contact with people (teleconferences rather than face-to-face meetings). If it is not possible to minimise contact with people, then employer’s risk assessments may indicate that they should modify, postpone or cancel this work activity.
The mental health and well-being of staff, particularly those working at home or in self-isolation, should be monitored on a regular basis and mental health support provided where appropriate.
Please take all measures advised by the health authorities very seriously to minimise the impact on yourselves and your workers.

- Greg Jones, ACT Work Safety Commissioner


Job Keeper Fact Sheet
The Australian Government has released a Job Keeper Fact Sheet which provides details for employers including a summary of the payments, eligibility criteria to receive the payments, how the payments will work and when the payments will begin.
You can view the Job Keeper Fact Sheet here.

COVID-19 WHS Q&A
Master Builders ACT has answered the following common member queries:
• I am having trouble sourcing hand sanitiser and hand wash, where can I get this?
• What PPE is recommended to protect workers against COVID-19 and other infectious illnesses such as the flu?
Click here to get the answers to these questions.

ACT and NSW Public Health Orders released – Construction remains classified as essential
Both the ACT Government and NSW Government have released updated public health orders which are effective as of 31 March 2020.
It’s important to note that construction is considered essential in both jurisdictions and as such, is allowed to continue to operate.
The building and construction industry depends on you to ensure that hygiene and social distancing remains a top priority, on and off site to allow the industry to continue to operate.
Click here to view the ACT Public Health (Non-Essential Gatherings) Emergency Direction 2020.
Click here to view the NSW Public Health Orders and a simple outline of what activities you can and cannot do under these new rules.

Additional printable posters for worksites
We recently released a series of COVID-19 safety posters for members to print out and display on their worksites.
This library of posters has since been updated to include the following signs:
•  Our Site Complies
•  A Simple Guide to Hand Washing
•  4m² rule
•  You Touch it, You Clean it
•  Don’t be Like Dave
•  Don’t be Like Debbie
•  Hygiene Matters, Stop the Spread

Summary of MBA ACT safety resources
MBA ACT have been working hard to keep WHS communications and resources going out to industry. Below is a summary of WHS links and resources for our members:
Psychological and Physical Risk Assessment – COVID-19
Fever Testing Procedure
Fever Testing Site Documentation
Fever Testing Secondary Testing Checklist
Site Signage - COVID-19
Tips While Working Remotely
PCBU Responsibilities for COVID-19
COVID-19 FAQs
Stop the Spread Checklist
COVID-19 Safety Checklist
Mental Health and Well-being Contacts

List of PPE Suppliers
Master Builders ACT has compiled a list of local suppliers who stock Personal Protective Equipment. This includes hand sanitser and masks. While there are lead times on this type of PPE, we encourage you to get in touch with these companies and discuss your needs.
The list of PPE Suppliers can be found here.

Safe Work Australia resources
Safe Work Australia has released work health and safety resources relating to COVID-19 to help you keep your workplace safe during this time:
5 things to do in your workplace: COVID-19
How to keep workers safe – COVID-19
Workplace Checklist – COVID-19
Suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 at work
We will continue to keep our members informed on COVID-19 related issues, if you would like to speak to the team at Master Builders ACT, please contact us on (02) 6175 5900 or at canberra@mba.org.au.


April 6 – COVID-19 update: information for small business

Cyber Security

COVID-19 themed malicious cyber activity is becoming increasingly prevalent, with attacks being targeted towards Australian organisations. This includes COVID-19 related scams and phishing emails.

Over the coming weeks and months, this activity is expected to increase. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Scamwatch has received more than 100 reports of scams about COVID-19 in the last three months.
These scams are sophisticated, with some impersonating the Australian Government.
The Australian Cyber Security Centre has outlined some key things to look for to determine if the text message or email is phishing.
The Australian Cyber Security Centre strongly encourages organisations and individuals to remain vigilant against the threat of COVID-19 themed scams, phishing emails and malicious websites.

Scott Morrison confirms construction an essential service to keep economy running
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has recently spoken in an on-air radio interview where he confirmed that construction will remain classified as an essential service.
He noted that social distancing can be practised on both residential and commercial sites and highlighted the essential impact the industry has on the Nation’s economy.
View the full interview here.

ACCC guidance for small business
The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission has released guidance for small business on their rights and obligations in response to events caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Their guidance provides useful information relating to issues such as:
• Cancelled functions and events and customer bookings
• Pricing of goods and services
• Charging subscription and membership fees when a business is not operating
Click here to view the guidance which will be regularly updated.

Preparing your business incase you become unwell
While we hope that you don’t become unwell over the coming weeks and months, it’s important to ensure that you have considered how your business will function if you become unwell during this time.
Having a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) ahead of time is a good way to ensure that your business can remain operating or viable
As outlined by the NSW Government Small Business Commissioner, here are some practical ways to prepare:
1. Use cloud-based storage for all your business records to enable you to access your key data and documents from any location with an internet connection.
2. Have a list of your key contacts and a handover notes prepared and easily accessible in case someone needs to run your business on your behalf
3. Have a staffing plan to ensure your employees are trained so they have the skills and knowledge to undertake necessary activities.
4. Make sure that you have arrangements for relief or casual/temporary staff you can call on at short notice if your regular staff are unable to work.
For more information on steps you can take to prepare your business, click here.

Reminder of your obligations on site during COVID-19
In recent days, the rate of confirmed coronavirus cases across Australia has seen a decline. However, we would like to remind members that this is not a time to become complacent.
As we continue to control the spread of COVID-19 we encourage all our members to look at the rules relating to COVID-19 and to read more information here about what you can do to protect yourself and your colleagues.
The building and construction industry depends on you to ensure these rules are enforced and that hygiene and social distancing remains a top priority, on and off site.

MBA ACT survey on the ACT Government’s Economic Survival Plan
Thank you to all of our members who completed the MBA ACT Survey on the ACT Government’s Economic Survival Plan. You’re feedback on the issues that our industry is currently facing is very much appreciated.
The survey will remain open until 9pm this evening, if you would still like to complete the survey, click here.

Update your contact details
The majority of our members only have one or two Contact People listed on their membership – we say the more the merrier and want to include your Accounts Manager, WHS Officer and anyone you think will benefit from receiving our weekly Member Updates, our Member Alerts, training and event information.
So what do we need?
For any new contact people, or to just provide updated contact information, please send through the following details: name, company and email address to kleister@mba.org.au.

 

April 3 – Remote delivery of training courses and your responsibilities as a PCBU

Remote delivery of training

Master Builders Group Training is pleased to announce that we are equipped to deliver the building and construction industry with remote training. This means that in the absence of face to face classes over the coming months, we will instead be using remote technology to continue to deliver some of our courses.

This service is part of our continued dedication and support of the building and construction industry.

Asbestos Awareness will be the first course to be implemented this month using remote technology, with additional safety training also being arranged. For more information on short course training, please email training@mba.org.au.

Apprentice carpentry training is also being delivered remotely to ensure we follow the guidelines of the Australian Government. For further information on email apprentice training please email reception@mba.org.au.

MBA ACT Survey on the ACT Economic Survival Plan

We need your feedback!

The ACT Government has released 2 economic survival packages which contain measures to help the ACT’s building and construction industry including payroll tax deferrals, $25 million of additional capital works, and announcements to fast track development approvals and unit titling applications.

We would like to hear our members views on these initiatives and gather ideas about what more could be done.

We encourage you to take this two minute survey.

Your responsibilities as a PCBU dealing with COVID-19

The MBA has developed a guide for PCBU’s to assist in understanding your responsibilities generally and when dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. We encourage all members to read through this guide and contact us on (02) 6175 5900 if you have any queries.

Effects of Mental Health while Working Remotely

During this time, many people will be working from home which can make it difficult to maintain a balanced lifestyle. Ensuring you take time to prioritise your mental health is critical while working from home.

We’ve outlined some simple tips to assist you in ensuring you have a productive workday while managing quality family time.

Click here to read through these tips.

Reminder of social distancing and hygiene

In order to ensure the ongoing operation of the building and construction industry, it is vital that every member of the industry operate their work sites in a safe manner, which includes abiding by the government’s new enforcements to stop the spread of COVID-19. This starts with getting the basics right, such as practising good hygiene and following the social distancing rules.

We encourage all our members to look at the new rules relating to COVID-19 and to read more information here about what you can do to protect yourself and your colleagues.

We will continue to keep our members informed on COVID-19 related issues, if you would like to speak to the team at Master Builders ACT, please contact us on (02) 6175 5900 or at canberra@mba.org.au.


April 2 - Round 2 ACT Government economic stimulus measures

Today the ACT Government announced a $214 million tranche of economic survival measures. The key points for the construction industry are as follows:

More fast-tracked projects ($5 million)

  • The ACT Government will provide a further $5 million to fast-track infrastructure projects and maintenance on government-owned community, school and other buildings as well as suburb maintenance.
     
  • The program will focus on works that can start immediately, be undertaken using local suppliers and workers, and meet social distancing requirements.
     
  • This fund will be utilised this financial year and is in addition to the $20 million package previously announced on 20 March 2020, bringing the total value of fast tracked projects to $25 million.

Healthcare

  • Part of the $126 million healthcare package to build health facility infrastructure, including additional emergency department surge capacity of up to 50 beds, flexing the bed base in Canberra Health Services by an additional 131 beds, and supporting Calvary Hospital to deliver dedicated COVID-19 wards and expanded ICU capacity.

Rates & Taxation

  • A 3 tier system to assist commercial landlords to provide rent relief to business tenants. Government have noted that further details are to be finalised with key stakeholders in the coming days (including the application to multi-tenanted sites) and subject to a National Cabinet discussion on Friday morning.
     
  • Providing a land tax and rates rebate to residential landlords who reduce rents by at least 25 per cent ($39 million).
    -The Government will provide a land tax and rates rebate to residential landlords who reduce rents by at least 25 per cent for tenants who have been impacted by COVID-19.
    -The rebate will be equal to 50 per cent of the rent reduction, up to $1,300 per quarter (around $100 per week), for up to six months.
    -This will provide rent relief to impacted tenants of up to $200 per week.
    -To access the rebate, landlords will need to complete a simple online application form (which will be available soon) on the ACT Revenue Office website.
     
  • Delaying the issuing of general rates notices for 2019-20 quarter 4 commercial general rates instalments by four weeks. Notices will be payable a month after the date of issue.
     
  • Extending payroll tax waivers to all businesses directly impacted by the ‘prohibited activities and venues’ list ($1.9 million, for additions to the list since this measure was first announced).
     
  • Enabling businesses in the construction industry to access interest-free payroll tax deferral ($0.1 million). To access the deferral, eligible businesses will need to complete a simple online application form (which will be available soon) on the ACT Revenue Office website.

Expediting development application and unit titling approvals

  • The Government will continue to fast track development application and unit titling approvals to allow work to continue in the ACT’s construction sector. The ACT Government is focussed on keeping as many people employed as possible, and has been working closely with the local construction sector to ensure existing projects progress and new ones are brought online, while also ensuring appropriate protection for workers

Access to Portable Long Service Leave

  • The Government will amend legislation to provide access to Long Service Leave to workers that suffer a loss of income. The legislation would allow the Minister to permit early access to leave payments accrued by workers impacted by the COVID 19 pandemic. These are benefits that employees would have recognised service for, but cannot currently be accessed.

Further information about the full range of ACT economic survival measures can be found at the ACT Revenue Office web site.

We will continue to keep our members informed on COVID-19 related issues, if you would like to speak to the team at Master Builders ACT, please contact us on (02) 6175 5900 or at canberra@mba.org.au.

 

April 1 - COVID-19 Update

Penalties for non-compliance with public health orders

Both the ACT Government and NSW Government yesterday released updated public health orders which are effective as of yesterday, 31 March 2020.

Click here to view the ACT Public Health (Non-Essential Gatherings) Emergency Direction 2020.

Click here to view the NSW Public Health Orders.

Penalties for breaching these public health orders include:

ACT:

Section 120 (3) of the Public Health Act 1997 provides:

A person must not, without reasonable excuse, fail to comply with a direction under this section.

Maximum Penalty:
In the case of a natural person, $8,000 (50 penalty units).
In the case of a body corporate, $40,500 (50 penalty units).
In the case of a utility that is a body corporate, $1,620,000 (2000 penalty units)

NSW:

Breach of orders made under the Public Health Act 2010 is a criminal offence and attracts heavy penalties.

In the case of an individual, the maximum penalty is $11,000, or imprisonment for 6 months, or both and a further $5500 penalty may apply for each day the offence continues. The NSW Police may also issue on-the-spot fines of $1000 for an offence.

In the case of any corporation, the maximum penalty is $55,000 and a further $27,500 penalty may apply for each day the offence continues.

MBA Insurance Services

MBA Insurance Services have provided an update on COVID-19 with information on how insurances may be affected during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as information on Cyber Liability Insurance, workers compensation and contract works & liability.

Contact MBA Insurance Services today if you want to discuss your insurance needs during this time.

Fever Monitoring

Over the past two weeks MBA ACT has consulted with various members to develop a procedure to assist those wishing to implement fever monitoring for COVID-19 on their sites or in their workspaces.

To assist you, we have developed:

MBA ACT would like to sincerely thank Chase Building Group, Shaw Building Group, Rork Projects and Geocon for their valued input and time to develop and provide guidance on these documents.

If your company has implemented other innovative controls around COVID-19 and would like to share with the Industry, please contact us. It is important the Construction Community consults and shares information, particularly during difficult times, to assist others in maintaining safe, and open, sites across Canberra.

Downloadable posters for your site

Master Builders ACT has developed a range of posters for you to download and use on your building and construction site.
The posters provide vital reminders to you and your colleagues on social distancing, hand washing and other important hygiene measures.

Download these posters here and print them out to display on your worksite today.

Social distancing and hygiene reminder

In order to ensure the ongoing operation of the building and construction industry, it is vital that every member of the industry operate their work sites in a safe manner, which includes abiding by the government’s new enforcements to stop the spread of COVID-19. This starts with getting the basics right, such as practising good hygiene and following the social distancing rules.

We encourage all our members to look at the new rules relating to COVID-19 and to read more information here about what you can do to protect yourself and your colleagues.

We will continue to keep our members informed on COVID-19 related issues, if you would like to speak to the team at Master Builders ACT, please contact us on (02) 6175 5900 or at canberra@mba.org.au.

 

April 1 - Launch of National Campaign to Promote Social Distancing on Building Sites

Master Builders Australia have launched a national advertising campaign to promote social distancing and hygiene on building sites. 

The campaign will run for the next four weeks and is targeted at workers on building and construction sites to remind them of their responsibility to ensure social distancing and good hygiene is being practiced on site.

The health and wellbeing of everyone in the industry remains of the utmost importance to Master Builders Associations nationwide and as an essential industry, it’s vital to the community and the economy that in this extraordinarily difficult time we can continue building and construction work.

Help us spread the word

The campaign will include posts on social media, we encourage our members to like the MBA Australia Facebook account and share these posts with your own audience.

To find out more about the campaign and view the full media release, please click here.

We will continue to keep our members informed on COVID-19 related issues, if you would like to speak to the team at Master Builders ACT, please contact us on (02) 6175 5900 or at canberra@mba.org.au.


March 31 - Updated COVID-19 FAQ for members and subsidy for retention of apprentices

Master Builders ACT updated FAQ for members

Master Builders ACT has released a new version of the COVID-19 Member FAQ document. Following additional queries from members, we have since updated this FAQ document to incorporate more information including:

  • Where can I find out more information about the stimulus packages and assistance measures announced by the Federal Government?
  • Further information on how you can support the mental health and wellbeing of your employees during this time.

Click here to read the updated FAQ for members.

Subsidy for retention of apprentices

The Australian Government has announced the Supporting Apprentices and Trainees package to assist small business, including Group Training Organisations (GTOs), retain their existing apprentices and trainees.

As a GTO, MBA Group Training can apply for a wage subsidy of 50% of the apprentice’s or trainee’s wage for up to 9 months from 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020 for eligible host employers. The wage subsidy is paid up to a maximum of $7,000 per quarter, per eligible Australian Apprentice, and is paid in arrears.

The wage subsidy is also available to employers of any size, including a Group Training Organisation, if they reengage an apprentice or trainee that has been displaced from a small business.

Click here for more information.

A summary of yesterday’s $130 billion wage subsidy package announcement

  • $130billion package to subsidise employee wages and keep people in jobs.
  • The payment will see the Commonwealth pay employers $1500 per fortnight, per employee, to subsidise wage costs, if the employer can demonstrate their business has suffered a reduction in turnover by at least 30% (50% if annual turnover is greater than $100million). This amount reflects 70% of median wage.
  • The first payments will be made in the first week of May, for the period commencing 1 March 2020. Payments will be made by the ATO, based on Single Touch Payroll Reporting data, in arrears for the previous month.
  • The payment will capture full time, part time, and casual employees that have been employed for at least 12 months.
  • Eligible businesses are companies, partnerships, trusts and sole traders, not for profits, and charities.

Master Builders is working closely with the Government to gather more information on what this means for businesses. Once we receive further clarification we will provide members with these details through a member alert.

Webinar on Dealing with COVID-19: Stimulus measures available for businesses

Snedden Hall & Gallop are running a webinar series on COVID-19 workplace changes which includes information on programs that governments are putting in place to help businesses survive.

This Thursday 2nd of April, Join Gerald Santucci, from Snedden Hall & Gallop, and Robert Shelton, from DFK Everalls, in a webinar on how to analyse your business in the current environment and to find out what government and the banks are offering.

Date: Thursday the 2nd of April
Time: 11am – 12pm
Register here

Social distancing and hygiene reminder

In order to ensure the ongoing operation of the building and construction industry, it is vital that every member of the industry operate their work sites in a safe manner, which includes abiding by the government’s new enforcements to stop the spread of COVID-19. This starts with getting the basics right, such as practising good hygiene and following the social distancing rules.

We encourage all our members to look at the new rules relating to COVID-19 and to read more information here about what you can do to protect yourself and your colleagues.

We will continue to keep our members informed on COVID-19 related issues, if you would like to speak to the team at Master Builders ACT, please contact us on (02) 6175 5900 or at canberra@mba.org.au.


March 31 - Stimulus for Host Employers to Retain MBA GT Apprentices

The Australian Government has announced the Supporting Apprentices and Trainees package to assist small business, including Group Training Organisations (GTOs), retain their existing apprentices and trainees.

As a GTO, MBA Group Training can apply for a wage subsidy of 50% of the apprentice’s or trainee’s wage for up to 9 months from 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020 for eligible host employers. The wage subsidy is paid up to a maximum of $7,000 per quarter, per eligible Australian Apprentice, and is paid in arrears.

The wage subsidy is also available to employers of any size, including a Group Training Organisation, if they reengage an apprentice or trainee that has been displaced from a small business.

MBA Group Training

In line with the Australian Government’s guidelines, MBA Group Training will manage the application and collection of payments on behalf of host employers. We will pass on the full wage subsidy to our host employers as a credit to your account as soon the payments are made to us at the end of each quarter. 

Which Host Employers Are Eligible?

A host employer is eligible for the wage subsidy if it employs fewer than 20 people.

Which Apprentices Are Eligible?

Apprentices employed by MBA Group Training on 1 March 2020 are eligible for the program.

Apprentices employed by MBA Group Training after that day may be eligible for the re-engagement subsidy.

How will it Work?

As a host employer, you may be eligible for a 50% wage subsidy (up to $7,000 each quarter), for each eligible apprentice hosted by your business on 1 March 2020.

The rebate amount will be dependant on the number of full days an apprentice worked with your business. This does not include days:

  • Training
  • Inclement weather
  • Down Time No Job

MBA Group Training will hold the wage subsidy amount as a credit on your account, which can be a drawdown against future invoices. Host employers will receive a statement showing the credit allocation, and will include any ongoing charges accrued for the placement of an MBA GT Apprentice.

The first stimulus payment is expected on or after 28 April 2020.

The stimulus will be allocated to any outstanding debt in the first instance, prior to a credit being made. 

If you no longer host an MBA GT apprentice and your account is up to date, MBA GT will refund you the stimulus amount (less than payments owed) to you, or hold as a credit on your account.

For more information please email reception@mba.org.au


March 30 - COVID-19 Update: Federal wage subsidy and new social distancing measures announced

Federal Government Announces $130 Billion Wage Subsidy

Today the Prime Minister announced a $130 billion wage subsidy. The JobKeeper Payment is a subsidy to businesses, which will keep more Australians in jobs through the course of the coronavirus outbreak.

The payment will be paid to employers, for up to six months, for each eligible employee that was on their books on 1 March 2020 and is retained or continues to be engaged by that employer.

Where a business has stood down employees since 1 March, the payment will help them maintain connection with their employees.

Employers will receive a payment of $1,500 per fortnight per eligible employee. Every eligible employee must receive at least $1,500 per fortnight from this business, before tax.

The program will commence today, 30 March 2020, with the first payments to be received by eligible businesses in the first week of May as monthly arrears from the Australian Taxation Office.

Eligible businesses can begin distributing the JobKeeper payment immediately and will be reimbursed from the first week of May.

Eligible employers will be those with annual turnover of less than $1 billion who self-assess that have a reduction in revenue of 30 per cent or more, since 1 March 2020 over a minimum one-month period.

Eligible employers include businesses structured through companies, partnerships, trusts and sole traders. Not for profit entities, including charities, will also be eligible.

Full time and part time employees, including stood down employees, would be eligible to receive the JobKeeper Payment. Where a casual employee has been with their employer for at least the previous 12 months they will also be eligible for the Payment. An employee will only be eligible to receive this payment from one employer.

Eligible employees include Australian residents, New Zealand citizens in Australia who hold a subclass 444 special category visa, and migrants who are eligible for JobSeeker Payment or Youth Allowance (Other).

Self-employed individuals are also eligible to receive the JobKeeper Payment.

Eligible businesses can apply for the payment online and are able to register their interest via ato.gov.au

More information on this announcement can be found here.

New Social Distancing Measures Announced

After meeting last night, the National Cabinet has announced further measures to slow the spread of Coronavirus. These new measures include limiting both indoor and outdoor gatherings to two persons only. This does not apply to construction sites.

The ACT Chief Minster, Andrew Barr released a statement which summarises the ACT’s new restrictions which can be read here.

It is important to note that building and construction sites are still permitted to operate, however it’s vital that worksites continue to comply with the necessary social distancing and hygiene measures.

The continued operation of the industry is in your hands. Safe Work Australia have release a Fact Sheet targeted at minimising exposure to COVID-19 for the building and construction industry.

Clerks – Private Sector Award CHANGES

On 28 March 2020, the Fair Work Commission made amendments to the Clerks – Private Sector Award 2010 in response to the escalating COVID-19 crisis.

These amendments apply to all clerical and administrative employees covered by the Clerks – Private Sector Award 2010, and give extended flexibility to both employees and employers during this unprecedented crisis. The Commission noted that the amendments strike a balance between providing additional flexibility to employers, but also ensuring that employees are treated fairly.

You can read about the specific amendments here.

If you require further information, please contact our Industrial Relations and Legal Adviser on 02 6175 5900 or via email mkhaira@mba.org.au.

Call for Round 2 ACT Stimulus Measures

Master Builders ACT has joined other industry associations to write to the ACT Chief Minister, Andrew Barr calling for:

  • Immediately implement a Rate Relief Scheme which provides a cash rebate equal to six months of the rates paid by building owners in the last available assessment.
  • Expansion of the six month waiver of payroll tax to all ACT businesses with Group Australia-wide wages of up to $10 million from March to September 2020.
  • A 50% reduction in power and water bills from back-dated from 1 January to 30 September 2020;
  • A six month waiver of land tax and stamp duty;
  • A six month waiver of Lease Variation Charge for any project that can demonstrate it will commence construction within six months (as was adopted in 2014); and
  • A Mr Fluffy building program, whereby the ACT Government engages local companies to design and build single houses (and dual occupancies where permitted) on vacant unsold Mr Fluffy blocks. This will serve as both an industry stimulus measure and aid to dispose of the currently unsold blocks.

To view the letter in full and see what other measures we are calling for, click here.

Letter from the Chief Minister to the ACT Infrastructure Sector

The ACT Government has today expressed their commitment to infrastructure investment during the COVID-19 Pandemic in a letter addressed to the ACT Infrastructure Sector.

The letter acknowledges the importance of the ACT Government’s infrastructure program for the community, for the wellbeing of those employed in the ACT infrastructure sector and their families, for the survival of local businesses and for the long-term economic recovery.

The letter also states that further targeted economic support, including tax relief and new infrastructure spending, will be provided by the Territory and Federal Governments in the coming weeks, months and years.

View the letter here.

We will continue to keep our members informed on COVID-19 related issues, if you would like to speak to the team at Master Builders ACT, please contact us on (02) 6175 5900 or at canberra@mba.org.au.


March 29 - MBA Calls for greater support for the Construction Industry

The MBA has been reassured over recent days that the Australian Government and ACT Government support the continued operation of the building and construction industry.

Master Builders Australia has written to the Prime Minister calling on the National Cabinet to reconfirm the essential nature of the building and construction industry and keep it open.

However, together with other industry groups, we are calling for greater support from the ACT Government to help small businesses through this crisis. A further round of stimulus measures are expected to be announced by the ACT Government next week. The MBA has called for:

  • Expanded commercial rates waivers
  • Expanded pay roll tax waivers
  • Relief from a range of other Government changes, including stamp duty, land tax, lease variation charges, and power and water bills
  • A program of building on unsold and vacant Mr Fluffy blocks to provide a pipeline of work for Canberra’s small builders, architects and consultants

The MBA continues to work with the ACT Government to ensure the previously announced $20 million of capital works program is brought to market quickly.

Social distancing and hygiene reminder

In order to ensure the ongoing operation of the building and construction industry, it is vital that every member of the industry operate their work sites in a safe manner, which includes abiding by the government’s new enforcements to stop the spread of COVID-19. This starts with getting the basics right, such as practising good hygiene and following the social distancing rules.

We encourage all our members to look at the new rules relating to COVID-19 and to read more information here about what you can do to protect yourself and your colleagues.

We will continue to keep our members informed on COVID-19 related issues, if you would like to speak to the team at Master Builders ACT, please contact us on (02) 6175 5900 or at canberra@mba.org.au.


March 28 – Construction Industry Remains Open

Construction industry remains strong during difficult time

While the industry is facing difficulty and uncertainty as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we know that our industry is resilient and strong during times of hardship.

We are hopeful that the construction industry right across Australia and here in the ACT will remain open if further restrictions are required to be implemented. In other countries such as the UK and Canada who are also feeling the impact of COVID-19, the industry at large remains open for business.

The construction industry will continue to remain strong throughout this time but it’s important that as an industry we band together to demonstrate that we can slow the spread of COVID-19 by ensuring that protocols on your site are enforced.

Five things you can do this weekend to future proof your business 

  1. Look at the Government STIMULUS packages. Information on both the Federal and ACT / NSW Government announcements can be found here. You should review the packages in detail, apply for what you can and speak with your accountant.
     
  2. Prepare and review a CASH FLOW. Now is the time you need to prepare a cash flow, if you don’t already have one. If you do, revise it. The building and construction industry remains open for business, but there is an economic downturn. You should factor in both best and worse case scenarios and project your cash flow until the end of 2020.
     
  3. Review your DEBTORS and CREDITORS. Businesses can no longer afford to allow accounts to extend beyond payment terms. Now is the time to review your debtors, and send out reminders. A number of businesses – both small and large – have already been impacted by COVID-19 and will continue to be throughout the rest of 2020. Honest communication with your debtors and creditors about realistic payment timeframes will be required. All participants in the building and construction industry deserve to be paid on time for the work that they perform. The obligation applies to everyone from developers down to small trades and subcontractors.
     
  4. Speak with your BANK. You may be eligible for the small business loans (part of which will be guaranteed by the Federal Government), as well as a reduction or freeze on repayments and other incentives. Pick up the phone, and speak with your bank.
     
  5. Take breaks and Recharge. Your business depends on and relies on you. So this weekend, try to take breaks and recharge, even if it is only for a few hours. Your wellbeing is just as important as your employees’ wellbeing, so make it a priority.

Social distancing and hygiene reminder

In order to ensure the ongoing operation of the building and construction industry, it is vital that every member of the industry operate their work sites in a safe manner, which includes abiding by the government’s new enforcements to stop the spread of COVID-19. This starts with getting the basics right, such as practising good hygiene and following the social distancing rules.

We encourage all our members to look at the new rules relating to COVID-19 and to read more information here about what you can do to protect yourself and your colleagues.

We will continue to keep our members informed on COVID-19 related issues, if you would like to speak to the team at Master Builders ACT, please contact us on (02) 6175 5900 or at canberra@mba.org.au.

 

March 27 - Mental Health and Wellbeing

It is important to consider both the mental health of your employees and your own mental health during this time. The near-constant updates on COVID-19 can induce feelings of anxiety and distress. We want our members to feel supported during this time. We have compiled a list of resources including templates, checklists and contacts for our members to utilise during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We encourage our members to reach out when you need assistance and provide support to your colleagues, friends and family.

Coronavirus “Keep your distance – stop the spread” checklist

Master Builders ACT, in conjunction with Master Builders Australia have developed a detailed checklist which is designed to encourage all building and construction businesses to (a) think about social distancing risks; and (b) act to reduce those risks.

We encourage all our members to view this detailed checklist and consider what measures you can take to help stop the spread. Remember, slower work is better than no work. Click here to view the checklist.

Physical and psychological risk assessment template

Master Builders ACT have created a psychological and physical risk assessment template which can be used as an example risk assessment and features some suggested controls that you can implement.

While this list is not exhaustive, it is designed to prompt thinking, consultation and action during the COVID-19 crises to help keep our Industry safe.

Click here to view the physical and psychological risk assessment template.

Mental Health Resources

Master Builders ACT have identified a list of resources to assist you during this difficult and uncertain time. Click here to view the resources and don’t hesitate to reach out if you need assistance.

Support and Crisis Services

There are a range of free resources available for workers and their families during these difficult times. Click here to view some support services, specifically around COVID-19 impacts.

We will continue to regularly update our members with accurate and relevant information as the situation progresses but in the meantime if you have any questions for us, please contact us on (02) 6175 5900 or canberra@mba.org.au.


March 26 - Update on COVID-19 

Updated Member FAQs

Master Builders ACT has released a new version of the COVID-19 Member FAQ document. Following additional queries from members, we have since updated this FAQ document to incorporate more information including:

  • Is construction an essential service and can I continue to operate my site?
  • Do the normal requirements for a redundancy apply during this COVID-19 pandemic?
  • I don’t have enough work for all my employees. Can I stand them down?

Click here to read the updated FAQ for members.

Master Builders ACT Office Closed

From today, the Master Builders ACT office in Fyshwick will not be open for external visitors, except to receive deliveries or, by arrangement, to sell contracts and site signs. We have taken this decision  to meet the Federal Government’s latest advice that where possible, workers should work from home. We will maintain this position until advice from Government changes.

Short course classes will continue in the office as planned for tomorrow and will then be suspended to transition to remote learning. Apprentice training has already been suspended to transition to remote learning.

Master Builders ACT will continue to support all of our members, however this will now occur via phone calls, email and video conference.

If you have a query please contact us on (02) 6175 5900 or canberra@mba.org.au.

During this time, if you require site safety signs or contracts please contact the MBA reception on (02) 6175 5900 or reception@mba.org.au to arrange for a collection of these products.

We would like to remind members that if you are looking to purchase an ACT Residential Building Contract, you can do so online through our newly launched platform, eDocs.

Support from Minister for Planning and Land Management, Mick Gentleman

Master Builders ACT is pleased to note that we recently received a letter from the Minister for Planning and Land Management, Mick Gentleman which expressed support for the building and construction industry and the MBA.

In the letter he outlined the need to keep construction occurring and to keep building sites active, to minimise any potential disruption to our building, construction and property industries and to keep Canberrans in jobs.

He also relayed the fact that additional staff are being recruited to the planning directorate to ensure the continuation of development applications with as little interruption as possible.

To view the letter, click here.

Clarity on tighter social distancing measures

Over recent days, Master Builders ACT has received a number of queries from members on what the new social distancing measures encompass. Senator Michaelia Cash has provided an updated advice list which gives further details on display homes and house inspections. We encourage all of our members to take a look at this list here.

We will continue to regularly update our members with accurate and relevant information as the situation progresses but in the meantime if you have any questions for us, please contact us on (02) 6175 5900 or canberra@mba.org.au.

 

26 March - Assistance for Businesses 

 

Earlier this week, the Prime Minister announced an increase in the range of activities which were to shut down across Australia from midnight on 25 March. This expanded list of activities does not include construction.

As such, the building and construction industry remains open for business, at this point. You can read more about what you can do to ensure that the industry remains open, including keep your site safe and ensuring that all workers and subcontractors abide by the government’s new enforcements to stop the spread of COVID-19.

In the meantime, Master Builders ACT is here to assist our members in your business. Over 97% of building and construction businesses in the ACT have a turnover of less than $10 million, and are predominantly local and family owned businesses. Whilst we cannot provide you with specific financial advice, we can put you in touch with people who can. It is vital that everyone in the Canberra community, and especially the building and construction industry support one another during what has been a horror start to 2020. If you are experiencing difficulties when engaging with customers, subcontractors or suppliers, please let us know. We may not be able to advocate or act on your behalf in individual circumstances, however if we are able to identify trends then we may be able to assist generally.

Government Stimulus

The Federal Government and the ACT Government have both announced stimulus measures that will provide some assistance to our members in response to the current COVID-19 situation. There is more that can be done, and the MBA will continue to appeal to the government at both a Territory and Federal level to introduce additional stimulus and support measures that will provide invaluable assistance to small and medium businesses during this pandemic and the economic crisis it has caused.

The key Federal stimulus measures are:

  • A boost to cashflow of up to $100,000 to eligible small and medium-sized businesses that employ people, with a minimum payment of $20,000, to keep business operating, pay rent, electricity and other bills and retain staff. Employers will receive a payment equal to 100% of their salary and wages withheld. Additional payments are expected to be introduced during the July-October 2020 period.
  • Increasing the instant asset write-off threshold from $30,000 to $150,000 and expanding access to more businesses.
  • Reimbursements and wage subsidies for those employers that employ apprentices, up to a maximum of $21,000 per eligible apprentice or trainee. This will help up to 70,000 small businesses retain their apprentices or trainees. The subsidy will allow eligible employers to apply for a wage subsidy of 50 percent of the apprentice or trainee’s wage paid during the period from 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020.
  • A guarantee of 50% to lenders to support new short-term unsecured loans to small and medium businesses.
  • A new investment incentive for businesses with an annual turnover below $500 million. The incentive will see a depreciation deduction on the cost of an eligible asset on installation of 50 percent. Existing depreciation rules with also apply to the remaining balance of the assets cost. The incentive will run for a 15 month period with the asset needing to be used or installed by 30 June 2021.

Further stimulus measures have been announced by the ACT and NSW Governments:

 

A comprehensive summary of the Government’s response to the COVID-19 can be found here, which also summarises the stimulus measures.

Business Viability

If you think your business may be in distress, please read this “essential steps list from ARITA.

In addition to the stimulus measures announced, the Federal Government has made changes to the Corporations Act 2001 that place a director’s liability for insolvent trading on hold and extends both the value and time limits for Statutory Demands and Bankruptcy Notices. Your other obligations as a director continue to apply, such as the requirement to keep books and records up to date. The relief offered is only temporary, and MBA ACT strongly recommends that you reach out now if you are having difficulties with general cash flow. You can contact our Member Services Director on (02) 6175 5900 or via email.


March 25 - COVID-19 Safety Update

MBA Safety Checklist

Master Builders ACT is here to support our members through these difficult and unprecedented times.

The COVID-19 pandemic presents not only physical health risks, but also psychological ones, that we must work together to eliminate or minimise.

We have created a dedicated COVID-19 webpage which contains resources and the latest information.

Today we have added a one page COVID-19 checklist to assist you.

The list is not exhaustive. The purpose of the checklist is to prompt discussions, assessment, consultation and change. If there are issues that you believe should be added to the checklist, please let us know.

We will continue to update this page with more information, including tools for psychological and physical risk assessment and reminders on PCBU responsibilities, as this information becomes available.

OzHelp
Due to the current COVID—19 outbreak, OzHelp’s mental health and wellbeing services have transitioned to telephone and online support.

OzHelp have created a Fact Sheet to provide you with advice on looking after yourself and others during this difficult time.

If you are feeling overwhelmed and need help, you can contact OzHelp for counselling and wellbeing support on 1300 694 357. 

The following OzHelp workplace webinar is also available: Team Talk: Looking after yourself during uncertain times

This 15-20-minute interactive talk is designed for workplaces. This live session is hosted by an OzHelp Wellbeing Support Officer and provides:

  • reassurance that now, feelings of anxiety or worry are ok
  • simple tips and routines to help people stay well
  • a reminder about OzHelp’s wellbeing support line and national crisis support agencies
  • a face to screen connection with a person, not a program

Participants can log in from one location as a group, or through individual links from the comfort of their own home, or remote location. This session is suited for up to 6 participants at a time. Managers and HR Managers are encouraged to join too.

Click here to register you interest for this webinar.

For more information about this webinar and how OzHelp can support you and your people, please contact them on (02) 6251 4166 or email info@ozhelp.org.au

Reminder of Worksite Safety

Construction sites are still operating and it’s vitally important for members to stay safe, and remember the usual safety requirements for your sites, including (but not limited to) safe working at heights, emergency preparedness, supervision, instruction and training, worker health and well-being, health monitoring, safe work practices and safety in high-risk work activities.

If you require further information on safety, please contact us on (02) 6175 5900 or canberra@mba.org.au.


25 March - Update on COVID-19 

Construction Industry Remains Open For Business

Last night the Prime Minister announced an increase in the range of activities which are shut down across Australia. The official statement from the Prime Minister which outlines these activities can be accessed here.

The expanded list of activities does not include construction. As such, building and construction works may continue operating at this point.

In order to ensure the on-going operation of the building and construction industry, it is vital that every member of the industry operate their work sites in a safe manner, which includes abiding by the government’s new enforcements to stop the spread of COVID-19. This starts with getting the basics right, such as practising good hygiene and following the social distancing rules.

We encourage all our members to look at the new rules relating to COVID-19 and to read more information here about what you can do to protect yourself and your colleagues.

 

SAFETY RESOURCE

Master Builders ACT is here to support our members through these difficult and unprecedented times.

The COVID-19 pandemic presents not only physical health risks, but also psychological ones, that we must work together to eliminate or minimise.

Today we have added a one page COVID-19 checklist to assist you.

The list is not exhaustive. The purpose of the checklist is to prompt discussions, assessment, consultation and change. If there are issues that you believe should be added to the checklist, please let us know.

We will continue to update this page with more information, including tools for psychological and physical risk assessment and reminders on PCBU responsibilities, as this information becomes available.

 

March 24 - Construction Industry Remains Open For Business

Tonight the Prime Minister has announced an increase in the range of activities which are shut down across Australia.

The expanded list of activities does not include construction. As such, building and construction works may continue operating at this point.

In order to ensure the on-going operation of the building and construction industry, it is vital that every member of the industry operate their work sites in a safe manner, which includes abiding by the government’s new enforcements to stop the spread of COVID-19. This starts with getting the basics right, such as practising good hygiene and following the social distancing rules.

We encourage all our members to look at the new rules relating to COVID-19 and to read more information here about what you can do to protect yourself and your colleagues.

We will continue to keep our members informed. In the meantime, if you would like to speak to the team at Master Builders ACT, please contact us on (02) 6175 5900 or at canberra@mba.org.au.

 
 


March 24 - Update on COVID-19 

MBA ACT Staff arrangements

Master Builders ACT has changed our staffing arrangements to ensure that we are complying with the government’s guidelines of social distancing by at least 1.5 metres. 

From this week, half of the MBA team will be working from the MBA office and half will be working from home. The team will be on a rotational week by week roster.

Although our staffing arrangements have changed, our dedication to assist and advocate on behalf of our members remains the same. 

If you have a query, please know that our whole team is still here to support you, from home or the office. Please reach out to us at canberra@mba.org.au or on (02) 6175 5900.

Apprentice Training

As of today, all apprentice training has been postponed for the next two weeks. This decision was made to comply with the necessary physical distancing guidelines in order to reduce contact and exposure to students and staff. MBA Group Training is working to offer flexible training arrangements during this downtime.

If you have a question regarding apprentice training please contact reception@mba.org.au.

Short Course Training

Short course training will continue this week, with reduced class sizes and enrolment numbers. All face to face short course training courses will be postponed from Monday 30 March, until the week beginning 14 April. Flexible and remote delivery options are being explored to continue to offer vital skills and training to the sector.

If you have a question regarding short course training please contact training@mba.org.au.

Keep Your Work Site Safe

In order to ensure the on-going operation of the local building and construction industry, it is vital that every member of the industry operate their work sites in a safe manner, which includes abiding by the government’s new enforcements to stop the spread of COVID-19. This starts with getting the basics right, such as practising good hygiene and following the social distancing rules.

We encourage all our members to look at the new rules relating to COVID-19 and to read more information here about what you can do to protect yourself and your colleagues. 

If you have specific questions about your site, please contact the MBA’s member services team on (02) 6175 5900 or canberra@mba.org.au.

 

March 23 2020 - Construction Industry Open For Business

MBA ACT has today been seeking urgent clarification from the ACT Government that the construction industry will be allowed to continue operating.

The Chief Minister has specified certain non-essential services that are not permitted from operating. Construction is not included in this list. As such, construction works may continue operating at this point.

A copy of communication from the ACT Government can be read here.

A copy of communication from the NSW Government can be read here.

Notwithstanding this advice, it is essential that all members maintain appropriate safety measures for their construction sites, including hygiene and social distancing requirements outlined by the Federal Government. Information about these rules is contained in the attached media releases and the member FAQs distributed by the MBA. Additional information will be provided to help members over the coming days.

We will continue to keep our members informed. In the meantime, if you would like to speak to the team at Master Builders ACT, please contact us on (02) 6175 5900 or at canberra@mba.org.au.

 

March 23 2020 -  Master Builders calls for Construction to be considered 'Essential Service' 

As you may be aware, yesterday it was announced by the ACT Government that all non-essential services will close within 48 hours.

We understand that this measure is to be enforced to protect public safety and to manage the spread of the coronavirus.

Master Builders has called on the ACT Government to confirm that construction is classified as an essential service. This letter to the Chief Minister can be read here.

We believe that the necessary safety measures have been implemented across worksites including, social distancing requirements, risk assessments and the implementation of necessary mitigation measures for each work site.

Master Builders Australia and the CFMEU have issued a joint media release which outlines the devastating impacts on the economy if the construction industry is forced to shut down. This can be read here.

We will continue to keep our members informed as we gather further information on this announcement. In the meantime, if you would like to speak to the team at Master Builders ACT, please contact us on (02) 6175 5900 or at canberra@mba.org.au.

 

 

March 22 2020 - COVID-19 Update 

NSW and Victoria “comprehensive shutdowns”

We are seeking urgent clarification about the announcements made by the NSW and Victorian Governments about further shutdowns, and what this means for construction sites. We will update members as soon as we have clarification.

In the meantime, this member alert contains important information about the support that the Australian and ACT Governments have announced for the construction industry, measures you can be taking to ensure worker and site safety, and information about how to access support from the MBA.

Australian Government

The Australian Government has announced a second stage of measures to keep businesses in business and to keep workers in jobs. This stage of measures is squarely focused on getting businesses and their workers through to the other side of this crisis. 

The measures include:

  • A wage subsidy for small and medium businesses to save jobs; and
  • A guarantee on loans to small and medium businesses so they can keep in business.
  1. Support to Keep Australians in Jobs

  • Government is giving businesses a cash payment of up to $100,000 for the period March 2020 to September 2020. 
  • That payment will be worth 100% of the tax those small and medium businesses, with a turnover less than $50 million, are withholding from their employees’ salary and wages. 
  • The payment will be tax free. It will now also be available to eligible charities or other not-for-profit entities.

 
How the Payment Works
Eligible businesses that withhold tax to the ATO on their employees’ salary and wages – they report it each month or quarter anyway - will receive a payment equal to 100 per cent of the amount withheld, up to a maximum payment of $100,000. 

Eligible businesses that pay salary and wages will receive a minimum payment of $20,000, even if they are not required to withhold tax. 

In the first package it was announced that the cash payment would be 50% of tax withheld worth up to $25,000 in payments or a minimum of $2,000.

This announcement builds on the cash flow boost from the first package worth $6.7 billion. This new measure is worth $25.2 billion so in total it’s worth $31.9 billion. 

The Government expects it will benefit around 690,000 businesses employing around 7.8 million people and 30,000 not-for-profits.

The Government estimates that these businesses employ: 
• NSW – Around 2.5 million people 
• Vic – Around 2 million people
• Qld – Around 1.5 million people
• WA – Around 810,000 people
• SA – Around 480,000 people
• TAS – Around 155,000 people
• NT – Around 63,000 people
• ACT – Around 115,000 people
  
2. Supporting Small Business to Get to the Other Side With Loans

  • Government has announced a new Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme to support small and medium business with a turnover less than $50 million.
  • This measure complements the $8 billion worth of measures the banks announced this week to defer repayments for 6 months for small and medium businesses battling the impacts of coronavirus.
  • The Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme will be able to be accessed by eligible banks and non-bank lenders.

Details
Under the Scheme, the Commonwealth will guarantee 50%, through the participating banks, of an eligible loan to small and medium enterprise customers that have been impacted by the coronavirus.

The Scheme will have the capacity to support lending of $40 billion to small and medium businesses. 

Loans will be used for working capital purposes and be unsecured and it will be for loans granted within 6 months starting 1 April 2020.

The Scheme will apply to new or existing customers of banks and non-bank lenders. 

Lenders will not be charged a fee for accessing the Scheme.

It will be repayment free for 6 months.

The maximum loan will be $250,000 for a term up to 3 years.

It will not apply to re-financing of existing customers. Those already have existing loans that will benefit from the ABA announcement.

Through this measure, the Government is offering to guarantee $20 billion.

The Australian Government’s latest announcement also follows the announcement by the Government on 19 March 2020, together with the Reserve Bank, to inject more than $100 billion into the Australia’s financial system. Please click here for the Government’s release and here for the Reserve Bank’s release.

ACT stimulus

The ACT Government announced an economic survival package on Friday 20 March.

Details can be found here:
Media Release
Fact Sheet  

The survival package includes:

  • An initial injection of $137 million into the ACT economy, including rebates of $150 on residential rates to help ease cashflow pressures for Canberra households, as well as a freeze on a number of ACT Government fees and charges, including the fire and emergency services levy, public transport, vehicle registration and parking fees.
  • A rebate on the fixed charge for 2019-20 on commercial rates for properties with an AUV below $2 million will be provided, which particularly targets businesses who own their own premises.
  • For those businesses who lease premises,  other more direct assistance measures are available. For example, there will be a six month waiver on payroll tax for hospitality, creative arts and entertainment industries, the waiving of fees for food business registration and liquor licencing fees (excluding off-license) and outdoor dining fees and a $750 rebate for small business owners to help with power bills.
  • ACT Government will also provide access to interest free deferrals of payroll tax commencing 1 July 2020 for all businesses up to a payroll threshold of $10 million to significantly ease the cashflow pressures for medium sized businesses. Small businesses are already exempt from payroll tax thanks to the highest tax free threshold ($2m) in Australia.  This initiative is anticipated to free up to an additional $100 million of businesses’ money when they need it most.
  • Infrastructure projects is another component of the ACT’s economic survival package, with $20 million to be immediately spent on infrastructure projects and maintenance on local schools, roads, and public transport.
  • ACT Government agencies have been instructed to prioritise the processing of development applications.  Ten more staff have been added into the DA assessment team in addition to the ACT Government’s investment in new front line staff to process applications in the 2019-20 Budget.
  • The ACT Government will also look to provide support by expediting the payment of bills to further provide cashflow support for small to medium businesses. The Government has committed to our own casual workforce through continued employment and appropriate access to COVID-19 leave where required.

A business liaison team will assist local businesses with these measures.

Australian Banks

The Australian banking sector announced on 19 March 2020 significant measures – that many individual banks went further than – to support existing loans. Click here for more info.

MBA advocacy

Both MBA ACT and MBA Australia are in regular contact with the Federal and ACT Governments.

We are both assisting the Government with their response and also providing valuable feedback from our industry direct to the Government on behalf of our members.

We understand that many businesses were already in financial stress resulting from lost work because of the bushfires or because they are owed money from a number of contractors who have collapsed earlier this year. Direct measures to support individual businesses are and will continue to be a key part of our advocacy.

Site safety

All members are reminded of the need to keep worker safety front of mind at this time.

Many sites are currently working hard to finish projects or bring them to a critical milestone before a possible shutdown. We urge contractors to manage workloads, fatigue and safety during this time of stress.

If your site is in the process of shutting-down, then we also remind all members to make your sites safe and secure during the shutdown period.

Managing mental health

Members are reminded to manage your own mental health and that of your workers.
OzHelp’s services can be accessed by visiting www.ozhelp.org.au.

The MBA is here to support you

The MBA is currently open, however we are preparing to move to a partial or complete work from home scenario, to be actioned based on Federal Health Department and ACT Government advice.

You may find information and contact the MBA in the following ways:

  • www.mba.org.au - our news and media page will be updated with the latest advice
  • (02) 6175 5900 – we will maintain our main office phone number. If we are unable to take you call immediately, we will call you back


 

 

20 March 2020 - 2020 CCF Earth Awards and Master Builders and Asset Construction Hire Excellence Awards Postponed 

We regret to advise our members that due to the current COVID-19 (Coronavirus) situation, the 2020 CCF Earth Awards and the Master Builders and Asset Construction Hire Excellence Awards have been postponed to a later date.

This difficult decision has been made with the health and wellbeing of our staff, members, guests and the broader community in mind. We will follow the current Government restrictions which state that non-essential indoor gatherings of more than 100 people are no longer permitted as of Wednesday 18 March 2020.

We would like to thank you for your ongoing support of the awards, and we appreciate your patience during this challenging time.

If you entered a project in the awards, we will be in contact with you at a later date to advise you on when your project will be judged. We will endeavour to provide you with several weeks’ notice to ensure you have adequate time to notify your clients.

If you have purchased a ticket to either of these events, we will provide you with a full refund. We will be in contact directly with ticket holders early next week.

We thank you for your understanding and look forward to seeing you at these events later in the year.

For further information please contact Master Builders ACT
Ph: (02) 6175 5900
E: canberra@mba.org.au

 

 

19 March 2020 - Update COVID-19 FAQ document for MBA members

Earlier this week Master Builders ACT released the COVID-19 Member FAQ document. Following additional queries from members, we have since updated this FAQ document to incorporate more information including:

• What is the MBA doing about COVID-19?
• How can I prioritise the risks associated with COVID-19?
• Are there recommended guidelines for cleaning or decontamination?
• What does self-isolation mean, and who should be self-isolating?
• I am concerned about the mental health and wellbeing of my employees during this time. How can I assist them?
• My employees are asking about working from home. What are my obligations?

Click here to read the updated FAQ for members.

We would like to reassure you that during this time we will continue to serve and support our members. While these are challenging times, business at the MBA is as usual. This means that for now our training courses are still running (with additional hygiene measures in place, and in some cases reduced class sizes). As a member, you can still contact us on (02) 6175 5900 to receive advice, however, please understand that due to an increased volume of calls we have been receiving it may take us a little longer to get back to you. 

We will continue to regularly update our members with accurate and relevant information as the situation progresses but in the meantime if you have any questions for us, please contact us on (02) 6175 5900 or canberra@mba.org.au.

 

 

18 March 2020 - Update COVID-19

Master Builders ACT proposes Stimulus to ACT government on COVID-19

As the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) situation continues to evolve, Master Builders ACT has been working with other industry associations to call on the ACT government to help support local businesses and their workers at this challenging time.

The MBA has called on the ACT Government for urgent and significant support, including:

  1. Waive or defer payroll tax
  2. Waiver or defer payment of commercial rates which assists building owners reduce costs to tenants
  3. Temporary immediate reduction in power and water billing rates
  4. Reductions or waivers in development and building fees and charges
  5. Bringing forward capital works expenditure and fast track of government procurement practices to bring projects to the construction phase sooner
  6. Reinstating the VET funding cuts for apprentices and adding additional top up apprentice payments for ACT businesses 
  7. Provide mental health support for business owners and their workers

We will update MBA members as more information on a local stimulus package is announced.

Announcement of ceasing of non-essential indoor gatherings of greater than 100 people

The Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced today that all non-essential indoor gatherings of greater than 100 people will no longer be permitted from Wednesday 18 March 2020. Social distancing and proper hygiene practices should be applied.

An extract from the Prime Minister’s announcement is below, which clarifies that this does not apply with essential activities, including construction sites.

General Population - Indoor Gatherings

As part of our efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Australia, the National Cabinet has accepted further restrictions on gatherings.

The National Cabinet has accepted the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) advice that non-essential indoor gatherings of greater than 100 people (including staff) will no longer be permitted from Wednesday 18 March 2020.

  • An indoor gathering refers to a gathering within a single enclosed area (i.e. an area, room or premises that is or are substantially enclosed by a roof and walls, regardless of whether the roof or walls or any part of them are permanent, temporary, open or closed).
  • This does not apply to essential activities such as public transportation facilities, medical and health care facilities, pharmacies, emergency service facilities, correctional facilities, youth justice centres or other places of custody, courts or tribunals, Parliaments, food markets, supermarkets and grocery stores, shopping centres, office buildings, factories, construction sites, and mining sites, where it is necessary for their normal operation (although other social distancing and hygiene practices may be required in these settings).

To read the full update from the Prime Minister’s Office, click here.

If you have queries please know that we are here to assist our members, please contact us on (02) 6175 5900 or at canberra@mba.org.au


 

 

16 March 2020 - Master Builders ACT Event Postponements 

Due to the escalating COVID-19 (Coronavirus) situation, Master Builders ACT has made the decision to postpone all events scheduled to take place on or before 30 April 2020.

This decision has been made with the health and wellbeing of our staff, members, guests and the broader community in mind.

The events impacted include the Women in Construction International Women’s Day Luncheon (Tuesday, 17 March 2020), the 2020 Master Builders Group Training Apprentice Graduation and Training Awards (Friday, 27 March 2020) and member events scheduled before 30 April.

We will provide a full refund of any ticket purchases. We will be in contact directly with ticket holders and those that have registered for member events in the coming days.

We intend to reschedule these events to take place later this year and look forward to seeing you at our future events.

We thank you for your understanding.

For further information please contact Master Builders ACT
Ph: (02) 6175 5900
E: canberra@mba.org.au