Master Builders Victoria (MBV) has been advocating to the Victorian Government on the Building Amendment (Registration and Other Matters) Bill 2021, which sets out changes to the Building Act 1993 and Domestic Building Contracts Act 1995 for:

  • Registration of trades (subcontractors)
  • Licensing of employees
  • Other miscellaneous and consequential amendments

MBV has long supported the introduction of trade registration for subcontractors as it draws Victoria to be more in line with other states along the east coast of Australia.

However, it is important to note that MBV has not supported mandatory licensing of employees.

MBV has some concerns with licensing employees as it may:

  • Influence wage hikes
  • Impact affordability issues
  • Further challenge trades shortages

In addition, our industry has a lack of trade courses and skilled teachers, so it is vital that this is factored in when considering any changes. 

It is also important to recognise that laborers and trade assistants have a fundamental role in supporting qualified tradespeople in carrying out building work. MBV doesn’t believe the Bill supports this type of work in our industry going forward.

Given the current challenges with COVID-19 and the dire trade shortages, we have recommended to the Victorian Government that licensing of employees is not adopted in Victoria at this time – especially as no other states currently have licensing of employees.

MBV considers that the introduction of trade registration will further compliment the work being carried out by the Better Regulation Commissioner and the panel of experts carrying out the Building Systems Review on the Framework for Reform to modernise Victoria’s building system.

The advice that we have received to date is that the Bill will allow:

  • A streamlined pathway for registration just for subcontractors, which will avoid the overregulation of subcontractors.
  • Flexibility for the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) to administer the scheme for the benefit of industry.
  • A strengthened registration and licensing process.
  • Strengthened transitional arrangements, including enabling the use of a training plan to provide a structured pathway for unqualified tradespeople to upskill during the five-year qualifying period to full registration or licence.

We have also been advised by the Victorian Government that, subject to the passage of the Bill through Parliament, a Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) and a draft set of regulations will be released for public consultation. MBV appreciates the legislative process through Parliament, however, it is very challenging for industry when the draft of the RIS and regulations are not available for review until the passing of the Bill. For example, we still have concerns as to what the training plans will consist of and what the schedule of work will be for each trade.

Our understanding is that the RIS and draft regulations will still have an initial focus on carpentry.  

Given that MBV is the key industry representative for the building and construction sector, the Victorian Government has continued to include us in the consultation process.

The Bill had its second reading on August 4.  We will keep members informed as this Bill progresses.

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