In this update:
- Supply Chain Update
- Occupational Health and Safety and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2021
- Accessible Housing
- Minimum Wage Increase
- Wage Theft Reminder
- Windfall Gain Tax
Strong advocacy from MBV has seen Commissioner for Better Regulation Anna Cronin appointed by the Treasurer to investigate and report on supply shortages impacting our building and construction industry.
As part of the Commissioner’s role, MBV have hosted to two member forums. These forums identified which materials are in shortage, including timber and steel, impacts of shortages on costs, delays in construction and potential cancellations of works. Members at the forum spoke about contractual issues, material substitutions, regulatory barriers, imports, and local production.
The information provided will assist in developing short and long term solutions for our industry. The Commissioner’s report to government is due by September 2021.
MBV will continues to work with the Commissioner, members and Master Builders Australia to deliver a coordinated advocacy response at both state and federal levels of Governments. MBV welcome ongoing feedback to supply shortages and price rises in material. Please send information to [email protected].
Occupational Health and Safety and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2021
Overall Objective of the Bill
The proposed reforms will ensure that the OHS Act remains relevant to common employment practices and ensures WorkSafe can continue to function effectively as Victoria’s independent occupational health and safety regulator.
What does the Bill do?
The Bill has five separate elements:
- Improving the workplace safety rights and protections for labour hire workers.
- Prohibiting contracts and other arrangements which insure or indemnify a person against liability to pay a monetary penalty for an offence under Acts and Regulations administered by WorkSafe.
- Giving authorised employee representatives and health and safety representatives the right to take photographs, measurements and make recordings of suspected occupational health and safety breaches within their existing roles under the OHS Act.
- Streamlining provisions for electronic delivery of certain notices and reports issued by WorkSafe Inspectors and allowing infringement notices to be served electronically.
- Simplifying procedures disposing of or destroying property which has been seized by WorkSafe, where the owner of the property does not want the property returned.
MBV has strong concerns around the potential for photographs, measurements and recordings taken on site to be misused and have raised the need for penalties to be in place to deter such behaviour.
MBV commends the intent of including accessibility requirements into the National Construction Code (NCC) 2022. We understand that housing provides people with a sense of security and shelter, which is fundamental to health and wellbeing and as such must be suitable for the occupant. However, MBV is concerned that making accessible housing part of the NCC is, as stated in the Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS), adding complexity and not generating a net benefit for the whole community. MBV does not endorse or support the drafting of the NCC where accessible housing requirements are mandatory.
MBV is concerned that the changes will have a detrimental impact on the consumer for a variety reasons, for example:
- The accessibility needs of each individual varies substantially, and requirements drafted into the NCC would not be needed by everyone.
- The costs associated for the proposed accessibility requirements will impact housing affordability. Noting, the current market volatility with regards to the impacts of COVID-19, including inflated costs of materials.
- The new requirements will create breaches of compliance with other provisions in the NCC. This increases risk to industry, insurers and consumers.
- These new requirements will promote inferior building quality.
- First Homeowners already have challenges to enter the property market and the additional costs associated with the new inclusion in the NCC may be prohibitive for this cohort.
MBV recognises the Victorian Government’s responsibilities to increase the stock of accessible housing; we also recognise the Building Ministers’ Meeting have stated each government has the flexibility on the best way to implement the accessible housing provisions to meet the needs of their communities.
As a transitional arrangement, we request that the Government considers utilising these accessible housing requirements as part of Victorian Government’s Big Housing Build commitment, in lieu of mandating the requirements for all new homes.
Nevertheless, MBV reiterates our concerns that these accessible housing provisions will impact compliance with other provisions of the NCC, such as weatherproofing, drainage, and termites - especially noting that poor weatherproofing and drainage of a homes is already a primary concern in building and construction.
Minimum Wage Increase
From the first, full, pay period on or after 1 July 2021, the minimum Award rates of pay and allowances will increase by 2.5 per cent as determined by the Fair Work Commission in its Annual Wage review. Various expense related allowances have also been adjusted in accordance with applicable CPI movements.
We have updated our wage bulletins to reflect the increases to the minimum wage rates and allowances. You can download the bulletins below:
- Building and Construction General On-site Award 2020
- Joinery and Building Trades Award 2020
- Clerks - Private Sector Award 2020
Please note, the increases are applicable from the first, full, pay cycle that commences on or after 1 July 2021. No adjustments need to be made for pay cycles that start before this date. As such, the increases to wages and allowances are likely to apply from your next pay cycle.
If you have further questions, please contact the MBV Employment and Industrial Relations team on (03) 9411 4555.
Wage Theft Reminder
From today, 1 July 2021, new wage theft laws become operative in Victoria. The laws, as part of the Wage Theft Act 2020 (Vic), see the introduction of three new wage-based offences carrying significant penalties, including imprisonment. For more information, click here to view the MBV fact sheet here.
Windfall Gain Tax
MBV has engaged in several round tables with the Treasurer’s Office, including a meeting with the Department of Treasury and Finance to discuss the implications of the Proposed Windfall Gain Tax on the building and construction industry.
The new tax, which would apply from 1 July 2022, will see 50 per cent of the value of uplift as a result of a rezoning (both local government and state government), as assessed by the Valuer General at the time of the rezoning.
MBV see the Windfall Tax as double taxation. The Windfall Tax will increase the cost of development, which will act as a further disincentive to meeting the demands of community growth at a time when the building industry was starting to recover from the impacts of COVID-19.