Master Builders Victoria (MBAV) has backed Premier Daniel Andrews’ call for increased infrastructure to meet the needs of Victoria’s growing population, as part of any ‘properly informed’ debate about Australia’s future migrant intake.

Premier Andrews was quoted in the media this week saying discussions around Australia’s migrant intake should begin with meeting the existing infrastructure, health and education needs of a growing population.

The Victorian Premier’s comments come after the Morrison government flagged a plan to reduce the annual intake of permanent migrants by 30,000 people, to 160,000 in the April budget.

MBAV CEO Rebecca Casson says the best way to answer Victoria’s existing and growing infrastructure needs is for the Victorian government to better support the building and construction sector.

“As Victoria’s leading association for the building and construction industry, we wholeheartedly agree with the Premier when he says that any debate about population growth needs to start with funding the things that make a difference in people’s lives, like hospitals and schools,” she says.

“However rising construction costs, and a shortage of apprentices and skilled trades people, often threaten the delivery of those projects.

“And, too often we’re seeing unrealistic industry Enterprise Bargaining Agreements (EBA) that hold construction companies ransom for exorbitantly high costs, without matching productivity, simply add another layer of obstruction to actually getting jobs done.”

Ms Casson called on the State government to focus more heavily on supporting careers in building and construction to better develop the burgeoning workforce required for current and future projects.

“There’s nothing wrong with the government supporting free TAFE courses, but realistically they are limited in the job-ready skills they can deliver,” she says.

“What we need is broader support for the industry’s registered training organisations that can deliver premium training and skills to cover all of our future construction requirements.”

“Victoria’s infrastructure needs are here and pressing. The government needs to better support the only industry that can actually deliver them!”