ACT Election Half Time Report

Posted 29 September 2016

ACT Election Half Time Report

Significantly reducing the scope of the LDA; agreeing to tear up the MoU; commitments to improve building quality; and the introduction of an ACT ICAC - these are significant commitments made by many parties and independent candidates running for the ACT election, and all align directly with Master Builders’ ACT Five Action Areas campaign.

At half-time on the 2016 ACT election the Master Builders ACT Five Action Areas campaign has already kicked a number of goals. Below is a report on the ACT election candidate’s commitments that impact the local construction industry.

Competition

Master Builder’s ACT opened its 2016 election platform with a scathing attack on the MoU between the ACT Government and UnionsACT that gives the CFMEU a formal role in deciding every construction tender in the Territory. Cabinet papers released under the 10 year rule and high level legal advice show that industry has been deliberately excluded from the outset and that several provisions within the agreement directly contravene Federal law.

Cabinet papers confirm:

  • That agencies had significant issues with the MoU – predictably focussed on administration and process.
  • A decision was made to keep it secret – allowing no consultation with industry and no media.
  • Far from being inconsequential, the agreement Included funding for two full time positions which may have cost taxpayers over $3 million to date.  

Master Builder’s ACT call for the next ACT Government to tear up the MoU was immediately agreed to by the Canberra Liberals. However, the Chief Minister responded by claiming that the controversial MoU is focussed on safety and payment of sub-contractors, a defence which is misleading, and one which does not support local builders and subcontractors attempting to do business with the ACT government.

Corruption Watchdog

Master Builder’s call to introduce an ACT Independent Commission against Corruption (ICAC) also received wide ranging support. The Canberra Liberals changed their initial position on establishing a corruption watchdog to now support the establishment of an ACT ICAC. A number of the Independent candidates, the ACT Greens and even the National office of CFMEU have all supported this call. Only ACT Labor have refused to agree to establish an ACT ICAC, even though every other Australian State either has an ICAC or is in the process of establishing one.

Building Quality

Reforms to improve building quality have been universally supported by all major parties and a number of independent candidates. Improving the builders licensing regime (including the introduction of trade contractor licensing), the introduction of continuous professional development training, and improving the quality of construction industry training providers are all issues in which the MBA has led the public debate. Agreement to these policies by both major parties in the ACT election is testament to the MBA’s ability to advocate on behalf of its members to improve the building regulatory system and provide greater consumer protection.

Housing Choice

After more than a decade of trying to convince the Land Development Agency (LDA) to allow more private sector development opportunities and to refocus its efforts on providing affordable housing for the Territory, Master Builder’s efforts appear to be having some impact. The over-reach of the LDA has been acknowledged by both major parties and the ACT Greens. The Canberra Liberals have vowed to strip the LDA of much of its power. This week, the Chief Minister announced that the LDA would be split into two agencies and its scope significantly reduced. The ACT Greens and a number of independent candidates have also spoken out against the ever increasing reach of the LDA and its need to re-focus on providing affordable housing.

Safety

With safety on construction sites our industry’s highest priority, we would certainly like to see candidates in the ACT election make commitments in this area. Master Builders’ ACT has called on the next ACT Government to focus on creating a collaborative safety culture where everyone is empowered and accountable.

It is a sad fact of our industry in the Territory that site invasions are a flagrant but routine practice used to enforce union demands. No other workplace in the Territory would put up with a bunch of thugs disrupting their work and intimidating their teams.  In response, Master Builders’ ACT has called on the next Government to protect our industry from these reprehensible behaviours by immediately changing safety rules to require 24 hours-notice of entry.

While we are yet to see either major party commit to this change, it is reassuring that the 24 hour right of entry has been incorporated into the model legislation published by Safe Work Australia.

The Election Second Half

With the second half of the ACT election still to run, there is still time for candidates to commit to the remaining Five Action Areas.

Master Builders’ ACT will release more information in the remaining two weeks of the campaign on the important areas of housing choice and the corruption watchdog. We invite all candidates, members and the general public to find out more about the Five Action Areas campaign by visiting our web site – www.mba.org.au.

We hope your football team has a win this weekend, and that the construction industry has a win on October 15.

More on the Five Action Areas

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