I know that some of you may be concerned about the media headlines and comments this week related to cladding. The Herald Sun, for example, used phrases like “cladding cowboys hunt” and “dodgy builders to face justice”.

These headlines are neither accurate nor fair, and they damage confidence and investment in our industry.

As much as we try to shape the stories they tell, Master Builders Victoria does not control the media. It is hard to combat sensationalist headlines, particularly on issues that capture public attention the way cladding does.

Our approach, therefore, needs to be more strategic. And, through this message, I am pleased to give you an insight into our work on this issue.

Over the last few weeks and months, Master Builders Victoria has been working hard on behalf of our members to address the issue of rectification of cladding and seek a resolution to the professional indemnity insurance crisis.

I hope you have all had a chance to read our member special bulletins on this issue. I have included links to each, in chronological order, here, here and here, along with our media release if not.

We have also written a letter to the editor of the Herald Sun, a copy of which can be read here.

In addition to regularly updating our members, Master Builder Victoria has been at the forefront of discussions with the Premier’s office, the Treasurer and his office, the Finance Minister’s office, the Victorian Building Authority and the Department of Environment Land, Water and Planning.  We have led discussions with industry stakeholders including the Property Council, UDIA and HIA.

And, through our Master Builders Insurance Services, we have co-ordinated discussions with national and international underwriters, BRIC – Bovill Risk and Insurance consultants and the VMIA.

Finally, and most importantly, we have collaborated with our national office and other state Master Builders Associations to co-ordinate a federal approach to this issue.  You may have seen already the CEO from our national office, Denita Wawn, featured in the media on this topic (Sky News and ABC Radio National). You should know that information prepared and provided by Master Builders Victoria was used by Denita and her team throughout these media engagements.

As this is a national issue, it is vital that we have a co-ordinated national approach.  Master Builders leads in this space where others do not.  As a result, our work has successful outcomes.

We are pleased to see announcements made by the Victorian government—later than ideal—on both cladding and PI insurance. State funding, as well as the new agency Cladding Safety Victoria, will allow our industry to begin cladding rectification work. We are, however, concerned by the effect that levies may have on costs in our industry, especially at a tough time for our economy.  We will monitor this closely and keep you informed.

On PI insurance, our state’s ministerial order to allow exclusions needs close monitoring, though we acknowledge that this is a necessary step in the short term.

We are hopeful that the national commitment to implement recommendations of the Shergold Weir report, together with the national engagement with the insurance market announced at the Building Ministers Forum yesterday, has potential to alleviate the crisis in the medium to long term. You can find more information here.

Last night, I addressed 100 members at our legal seminar on cladding, and delivered this same message.

The advocacy of Master Builders Victoria may not always be visible, and we may not always appear in the media, but you can rest assured that we have a strategic approach to these issues - and most importantly - we have seat at that table of influence on your behalf.

If you have any concerns about our work, please contact me directly on ceo@mbav.com.au.

Best wishes,

Rebecca Casson