Master Builders Victoria (MBV) has welcomed Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp to its March Industry Breakfast today to discuss leadership through COVID-19 and the continued effect of supply chain disruptions and trades shortages on the building and construction industry.

Hosted at the MCG with almost 200 Master Builders Victoria members, guests, and industry stakeholders in attendance, MBV CEO Rebecca Casson said supply chain delays and cost escalations were still the main issues facing Victorian builders.

With building contract prices locked in, the large and unanticipated surge in the price of many building items such as timber and steel-based products means that many builders find that completing works is more expensive than expected.

Supply chain disruptions and labour shortages have disrupted the building and construction industry’s ability to keep up with the pipeline of work ahead.   

“I want to address the main issue that MBV is continuing to lead on, which is the impact of this pandemic on both the supply chain and the shortage of trades in our industry,” Ms Casson told the audience. 

“Since early 2021, MBV has consistently raised awareness of these issues to consider solutions to trades. 

“We understand from the Victorian Government that a report from the government on the Commissioner for Better Regulation and Red Tape Commissioner's findings will be issued soon.  We know that this report won't be the silver bullet. 

“However, we are hopeful that it may assist our sector moving forward to ensure its resilience into the future.” 

Ms Casson said MBV would continue to place supply chain and trade shortage issues, together with the COVID isolation rules that continue to cripple the building and construction industry, at the forefront of its advocacy. 

“This will be especially important in the lead up to the Federal and State Elections and the upcoming Victorian State Budget,” she said. 

Despite the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ms Casson said building and construction remained a cornerstone of Victoria’s economy. 

As the engine room of the state’s economy, Ms Casson said it must not be forgotten that the building and construction industry accounted for over 57 per cent of its tax revenue. 

Nevertheless, Ms Casson said the building and construction industry still required support to ensure that it can remain resilient and continue to be the foundation of the state’s post-COVID economic recovery.  

The pandemic, the supply and skills shortage, isolation rules, the global shift in trade relations and how we design and construct the built environment and cities all raise different aspects of resilience building, she said.  

“These threads are all interconnected, so government and industry must continue to work together to address them,” Ms Casson said. 

“This collaborative approach will ensure that our sector remains resilient, continues to prosper, and maintains support for the Victorian economy and consumers.” 

With some parts of the country experiencing severe flooding, Ms Casson said recent events had shown Victorians the threat that natural hazards pose to the built environment. 

“This has further highlighted the need to have highly skilled Master Builders, together with reliable supply chains and materials, ready and available to respond whenever these disasters occur,” she said.  

“Whilst there are many questions surrounding climate change, it could be argued that these types of natural disasters may become more frequent in the future.  

“Therefore, we must all learn from these events and build a better future. And that’s what Master Builders Victoria is here to do.”

After addressing the audience on leadership through COVID-19, Ms Capp took part in a panel discussion with Hume City Council CEO Sheena Frost and City of Melbourne Chair in Urban Resilience and Innovation at the Melbourne Centre for Cities, Professor Sarah Bell.

The wide-ranging forum discussed leading through a pandemic and looking long-term at the building and construction industry to ensure it remains resilient. Hence, supply chain issues will affect the sector less in the future.