143 years ago, a group of builders came together because they believed that industry needed a voice. Our job is to help ensure that the voice of builders continues to be heard by government and regulators and that our advocacy work has impact.
Advocacy and lobbying at Master Builders is often like an iceberg; members typically see only a small proportion of the entire body of work on their behalf. Outward signs of activity such as submissions to government or media opinion pieces are only part of a full programme of engagement which includes projects, meeting with regulators, government, other industry bodies and also hosting and attending events.
Throughout 2018, we took members’ interests directly to law makers on subjects as broad as the new Building Regulations in Victoria to stormwater management rules. We engage on such diverse matters as industrial relations, OHS and planning reform. Advocacy work in 2018 also included:
- Extensive consultation work with government on new building legislation
- Membership of the stakeholder reference groups such of the Victorian Cladding Task Force
- Industry lunches held with politicians
- 10 per cent increase in use over all social media platforms
- Membership of Building Regulations Advisory Council (BRAC), Building Industry Consultative Council (BICC) WorkCover Advisory Committee (WAC) and OHS Advisory Council (OHSAC)
- The passing of the trades registration bill by the Andrews Government after more than a decade of lobbying by Master Builders.
Master Builders has five member-constituted Sector Committees who provide the organisation with direct input to the policy positions we hold with government. Member input brings valuable new ideas and technical knowledge to the table in our advocacy work. In 2018 there were 45 meetings of the various sector committees, involving a significant time commitment for members. We acknowledge their service to Master Builders over the past year and thank them for the energy and input they provide.
Key issues in 2018
- State election
The state election was a close race between the major political parties, and Master Builders engaged with the Labor, Liberal and Greens parties to better understand their positions on key building-industry matters. We consulted with parties as well as providing them with data or background information to support our policies.
We assembled a scorecard to better understand the positions of the three major parties on the 23 issues we had identified as most important to our industry. Master Builders also produced a comprehensive background policy document outlining our advocacy programme in greater detail and supported with industry data.
We welcome the opportunity to engage with the re-elected Andrews Government on building industry matters.
The lack of mandatory trades registration in Victoria is one of the most common issues raised with us by our members. In 2015, Master Builders released an online petition calling for mandatory trades registration which over 1250 people signed.
2018 saw the successful passing of the Building Amendment (Registration of Building Trades and Other Matters) Bill 2018 in Parliament on 7 August. The Bill sets up two models applicable to the commercial and domestic sectors for prescribed building work:
- a registration requirement for subcontractors to be expanded from the current registration requirements to include when a subcontractor contracts directly with builders; and
- a broader requirement for the occupational licensing of employees.
The introduction of the Bill represented a good first step towards much needed reform in our industry. Indeed, Master Builders has been lobbying for a long time to establish a model of subcontractor registration based on the existing domestic trades registration categories administered by the Victorian Building Authority. However, there is a long way to go because even if it passes through Parliament as a cost-benefit analysis will also be required to develop a workable and cost-effective solution.
Submissions in 2018
Some of our work involves providing submissions on a range of government consultations in Victoria. Submissions of particular significance in 2018 included:
Victorian Local Jobs First Bill
Letter to Minister Donnellan on VicRoads levy on builders
Small Business Regulation Review
Small Business Regulation Review – Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources
Improving Stormwater Management Advisory Committee - Comment on issues paper: Improving Stormwater Management
Improving Stormwater Management Advisory Committee – Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning
Draft Central Melbourne Design Guide
City of Melbourne
Building Confidence: Shergold-Weir report
Building Ministers Forum, Minister Wynne
Labour Hire Licensing Regulations - Master Builders comment on Exposure Draft
Industrial Relations Victoria – Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources
Election Policy Priorities and Election Scorecard
The three major parties
ABCB Accessible Housing Options Paper
Feedback to National office – Australian Building Codes Board
2019: What is ahead?
Building and construction has played a critical role in the prosperity of Victoria for generations, but even more so in recent years. Governments and regulators recognise the vital role our industry plays in ensuring Victoria sustains a growing population and a vibrant economy. This should never be taken for granted. Progress can be easily threatened by challenges such as skills shortages or delays due to overly complex or poorly considered planning rules. It is in everyone’s interests to get the policy settings right for Victoria’s building industry.
Mandatory trades registration and industrial manslaughter and wage-theft laws are likely to be headline issues for industry in 2019. Government must be prepared to work with industry to produce the best outcomes for Victoria and Master Builders will continue to engage with government and represent the builder voice as the year unfolds.