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INSIDE Why Brooke Hanson’s our biggest safety advocate Get active – improve your mood and stress less! One death is one too many: what’s your safety system?




table of contents Average Net Distribution 31 901 CAB Audited as of March 2015

all about ME


MEA – building industry partnerships for our members


impressive project


maximise your membership


industry chatter




get active – improve your mood and stress less!


ME Training: raising the bar


meet a master electrician


attention to partnerships

the buzz


and how you can make the

gadget guide


on its way out, and the warmer months ahead of us, we’ve turned our

most of them before the


turning the tide on apprenticeship drop-outs 28 the interview


your top 3 tech questions


With winter well and truly

year is out! On page 6, we’re highlighting the story of one very special Master Electrician whose business has been with MEA for

one death is one too many: what’s your safety system?


Over on page 7, we’re

letter of the law


delving deep into

your guide to workplace relations


social snaps


we play in supporting

the last word


you by fostering strong

a hefty 60 years.



Master Electricians Australia PO Box 2438, Fortitude Valley Queensland 4006 PHONE 1300 889 198 FAX 1800 622 914 EMAIL WEB


partnerships – the role

ties with the important electrical regulators. And we chat to one MEA



one critical area of

member who, in his

30 Follow us @MasterElectrics on Twitter Become a Fan on Facebook masterelectricians or call 1300 889 198

second year of business, took on a very impressive project – the removal and replacement of the lighting poles at one of Victoria’s most popular tourism hot-spots, Phillip Island (page 10). Enjoy.

The Master Electrician is printed on environmentally responsible paper sourced from FSC® certified forestry plantations. The paper is made with Elemental Chlorine Free pulps (ECF). DISCLAIMER: The statements and opinions expressed in this publication are offered solely in pursuance of the objects of the Electrical Contractors Association and Master Electricians Australia to provide an informative service to contractors in the electrical industry on legal, commercial and other issues and problems related to the industry. The Electrical Contractors Association and Master Electricians Australia are not aware that any person intends to act or rely upon such statements and opinions contained in this publication or the manner in which it might be possible to do so. The Electrical Contractors Association and Master Electricians Australia issues no invitation to any member or other persons to act or rely upon such statements or opinions or any of them and it accepts no responsibility for any of them. It intends by this provision to exclude, to the extent permitted by law, all liability for any such statements and opinions. The Master Electrician Magazine can be viewed online at

The Master Electrician

Spring 2016


all about ME

Keep supporting your electrical wholesalers, so they can keep supporting you As the installed Infinity and Olsent cables begin breaking down (yes, it’s now been more than two years since the ACCC’s nationwide recall was announced), more than 2000 kilometres remains in people’s homes in every state except the Northern Territory. Less than 50 per cent of the cable, imported from China, has been replaced. And there are a number of reasons for that – however it doesn’t take away from the fact that there’s still a really long way to go until this issue has been put to bed once and for all. The only positive in this situation is that Woolworths came to the party and agreed it would honour all recall costs, regardless of the outcome of the Masters franchise, which sold the bulk of the cabling. But no matter when this issue is eventually resolved, the underlying one remains – that supporting suppliers who support you by carrying recall insurance or having adequate prudential arrangements in place should things go wrong – could be one of the most important safety nets you can have for protecting your business. It’s simply not enough to know a product complies with Australian standards. But despite the risks, a large number of electricians are still choosing to buy cheaper products from any number of different supply chains, such as online and discount stores, or through generic ‘big box’ stores that don’t specialise in electrical equipment, but oftentimes at the expense of quality and reliability.

While it may be tempting to save a few dollars at the time, the risks are proving to be great. That small amount of money saved now could end up costing you major cash and possibly your livelihood down the track, if the product you’ve bought and installed in clients’ homes is found to pose a serious threat to people’s property and lives. These very serious issues should make every contractor question whether saving a few dollars is really worth leaving themselves financially exposed. You see, there are good reasons you’re paying a little more at reputable suppliers for products that comply with Australian standards – firstly, they’re subjected to thorough safety testing prior to hitting the shelves rather than after someone discovers a potential problem. Secondly, because most of these suppliers have prudential arrangements in place at all times, to cover you – the installer – in such an event. While both of these safety nets may add expense, they are an integral part of your ‘insurance policy’, so please, support the suppliers who support you.


CONGRATULATING MILESTONE MEMBERS Master Electricians Australia would like to thank a number of members for their loyalty to the association and commitment to the industry. Congratulations to Bundaberg Refrigeration & Electrical Pty Ltd on their 60-year membership – what an incredible service to the industry and to the association.

• Dav Electrical

Congratulations to this quarter’s 25-year members:

• Reef Electrical Pty Ltd

• Mitchtech

• T C Shaw Electricians

• Rob’s Electrical

• Styan & Lindenberg Pty Ltd

Congratulations to this quarter’s 15-year members:

• Get Compliance

• CEQ Australia

• Claxton Electrical

• Greg Smith Electrical (QLD) Pty Ltd • Pacific Power Electrical Services

• Robair’e (AUST) Pty Ltd

• Cummins South Pacific Pty Ltd

The Master Electrician

Spring 2016


MEA recognises Bundaberg sparkies’ 60-year membership At MEA, we’re pleased to recognise a very special member, who’s been with us for a hefty six decades. Locally-owned Bundaberg Refrigeration & Electrical (BRE) kicked off its first day in business on June 29, 1949 under six shareholders – Tom Horton, son Eric Horton, Digger Thiele, Vic Thiele, Leahy Downing and Harry Round. The team operated out of two locations – one in Bourbong Street looking after the domestic sales and service, and another location at 90 Woongarra Street which supplied all commercial requirements of the day. In the early 1950’s, the majority of work was linework contracted to the Electric Supply Company, which included constructing 66,000 volt lines in areas such as Biloela, Binjour Plateau, Thangool, Kalpowar and Gladstone.

In these early years, the fledgling company also undertook full reticulation work – servicing street lighting and connecting power to new homes in Gladstone. With World War II still in their memory, and electrical equipment hard to come by, the six partners found it necessary to build their own equipment with the end result including ex-army blitz trucks being used as carriers for post-hole boring equipment. As the years went on, Patriarch Tom (1949–1969) handed the company down to son Eric (1969–76), who then handed it to grandson Neil (1976–97). The tradition is still alive, with Neil’s brother-in law Bob

Godfrey, keeping the family interest running smoothly since 1997! BRE was the first refrigeration/electrical company in Bundaberg to proudly offer and advertise a 24 hour/7days commercial breakdown service, and has continued to offer this service for more than 35 years. Today, BRE’s expertise has changed dramatically from 1949, when its main tasks involved boring holes for power poles to carry lines and domestic installations. The crew now mainly operates in commercial refrigeration and installation and servicing of cold rooms, air-conditioning and refrigeration along with commercial and industrial electrical wiring.


feature business

MEA – Building industry partnerships for our members As business owners and contractors, you need to maintain excellent relationships with your key stakeholders. To support you, your industry association is doing its part to foster strong ties with important electrical regulators.

RELATIONSHIPS are critical to good business – relationships with your customers, your suppliers, your staff and your colleagues. One other set of relationships that’s critically important for the electrical contracting industry is the interface with state and territory safety regulators. It’s vital that contractors understand the latest developments in the area of safety regulation, and it’s important that the people

responsible for setting those standards for our industry understand the real-world constraints and pressures that contractors face. For this reason, Master Electricians Australia has worked over many years to develop strong and respectful relationships with electrical safety regulators in each state and territory. By being an active partner with the regulators, we’ve been able to help share the safety message while also ensuring contractors’ voices are heard in the corridors of power. The Master Electrician

Spring 2016


“It’s vital that contractors understand the latest developments in the area of safety regulation, and it’s important that the people responsible for setting those standards for our industry understand the real-world constraints and pressures that contractors face.”

The primary role of the safety regulators is to develop and implement legislative, compliance and enforcement frameworks to improve electrical safety in each state, and across the country. In Western Australia, for example, the regulator is known as EnergySafety, and it is responsible for the technical and safety regulation of all the electrical and most of the gas industry in the state. It lists the safe operation of the electrical industry as one of its core objectives, and it develops, implements and reviews legislation to protect the industry, other workers and the general public. “Effective stakeholder engagement leads to better planned and more informed policies, projects, programs and services,” Director of EnergySafety Ken Bowron says. “It is an essential element in enabling us to provide sound and balanced advice to the Government.” Mr Bowron says strong partnerships with the industry helps the organisation to perform its role better. “EnergySafety acknowledges the contribution of industry associations such as Master Electricians Australia towards the successful implementation of policy initiatives.” “While, in some cases, our approaches may differ, industry associations, in most cases, share EnergySafety’s goals for continuous improvement and a safe industry.” He says the views of industry associations are regularly canvassed whenever amendments are considered to the legislation and matters affecting electrical contractors. Amendments to the WA Electrical Requirements and developing the new “eNotice” application are two of the most recent examples where MEA has worked closely with EnergySafety.

“For industry associations, the benefits of engagement with regulators such as EnergySafety include the opportunity to contribute as experts in their field to policy and program development, have their concerns heard and an opportunity to participate in the decision-making process.” In Queensland, the state’s Electrical Safety Office is located within the Industrial Relations division of State Treasury. Acting Senior Director Victoria Thomson says the ESO’s primary role is “to develop and implement legislative, compliance and enforcement frameworks to improve electrical safety in Queensland”. “The key goal is to reduce the rate of electrical fatalities, injuries, and property damage in Queensland,” Ms Thomson says. “As an organization, we tackle this on many fronts. We inform, educate, enforce, and at times, punish those whose negligent or reckless actions put others at risk.” As with Western Australia, she says close partnerships with industry organisations are vital to understand industry’s perspective, keep up with trends, to adapt and improve, and to make change where necessary. “Partnering with groups like MEA is essential to achieving long-term sustainable change and realising our shared goal of eliminating electrical death and injury. It’s a two-way street, as we are also open to feedback and advice regarding programs, policy, and strategy.” Master Electricians Australia is represented on the Queensland Electrical Safety Board, positioning the organisation to provide advice directly to the State Government about legislative arrangements for electrical safety. “Our partnership with MEA allows us to reach many electrical contractors who may otherwise not engage with the regulator,” Ms Thomson says. “For instance, in 2015 the ESO/WHSQ and MEA worked together to deliver free safety management system workshops for small electrical contractors across the state.” As a Master Electricians Australia member, you will continue to have access to the most up-to-date information coming from safety and electrical regulators, through member bulletins and emails, as well as through the pages of The Master Electrician. And your association will continue its long tradition of making sure contractors’ views are sought and heeded in the decisionmaking process.



















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feature impressive project

ME member takes on major tourism project in second year of business The nesting spot for as many as 32,000 of the world’s littlest penguins is one of Victoria’s most popular tourism hot-spots, attracting more than 600,000 curious observers from around the world each year. When a $58.2 million makeover for the Phillip Island Penguin Parade was announced, including the removal and replacement of the lighting poles that guide the penguins back to the shore each night, one new business owner in Victoria knew his team could tackle the job.


EACH night at sunset at Victoria’s Phillip Island Penguin

Parade, thousands of little Penguins return home after a day’s fishing. It’s a natural spectacle not replicated anywhere else in the world, and one humans can observe covertly from a number of specially designed viewing areas, some tucked seamlessly into the natural landscape. MEA member and owner of Melbourne’s Cabled, Alain Doig, knew that any works undertaken within the precious penguin territory had to be completed with the utmost care, and so took on a full month’s planning, in order to carry out all works to the lighting poles in just one day! Alain says moving the existing poles without disrupting the natural habitat, nor the nightly penguin parade, was no easy task. “The lighting poles were designed to just give enough light to illuminate the beach for the penguins,” Alain says.

“We ended up removing the lights by using a helicopter, and installing the lights using the helicopter,” he says. Alain and his team had to pre-plan every intricate detail of the day’s operations, before heading on site. “The engineering team from Phillip Island suggested we use the old assemblies for the new lights,” Alain says. “Beforehand, we had to pre-lubricate the assembly that we were using so that on the day, the pilot would be able to pick up these poles with the least amount of difficulty.” Everything would have to be fitted to a tee – especially the lighting, with specialised parts imported from Europe. “With LED lighting, ultra violet is an invisible light but still causes disruption to the penguins. If there’s enough ultra violet light, they’ll (the penguins) stay in the water and won’t return to the shore, so The Master Electrician

Spring 2016

12 the main consideration of the light was that it had to have a low UV light rating to it. “Before the day, we had to modify the lights with the use of special filters from France.” The intricate plan involved having multiple teams on site – five from Cabled, six from the helicopter company, an observation team from Philip Island and cameramen to catch all the day’s activities – so there would be no room for error come game day. Alain says he split the team from Cabled in two, to look after two different jobs – one would prepare the old light poles for removal whilst the other would prepare the new light poles for installation.

“... any works undertaken within the precious penguin territory had to be completed with the utmost care, and so took on a full month’s planning, in order to carry out all works to the lighting poles in just one day!”

“All along, the penguin parade was able to work without disruption,” Alain says. And Alain says it’s been a significant project for Cabled to take on in its second year of business.

“We had to get special drills, using a magnetic drill and a special brooch cutter which basically cuts through nearly a solid inch of steel to suit the old assembly – we had to learn some skills there!” Alain says.

“It’s been a really good opportunity for us to showcase our skills in planning and even just our capabilities because we’re a really small business, we’ve only been going since the start of last year,” Alain says.

After a mammoth, precise and perfectly-coordinated effort, Alain and the team successfully removed all five poles on the first day without a hitch, and reinstalled four out of the five poles in a new location, which forms an integral part of tourists’ viewing experience.

“We were able to work for a good cause – everyone has been really supportive and has enjoyed the work.

“The project aligns with our values as well, as we’re a very environmentally conscious business – just being responsible, and having a positive impact on the community.”


maximise your membership

Connect to more As a Master Electricians Australia member, you can expect that we’ll keep giving you more of the good stuff! That’s why we’ve teamed up with Master Builders Connect – a service that connects you to more exclusive offers and mates’ rates from Telstra.

MASTER Builders Connect has

negotiated a fantastic international roaming day pass with Telstra that provides automatic price protection when travelling overseas on all Enterprise Fleet Plans that we offer. For $10/day members are able to make and receive unlimited voice calls and SMS with 100mb of data in 58 countries. This is the only enterprise plan in Australia that has access to this particular roaming pass so it’s a great deal for MEA members.
 We know the trade. And we know what’s important to our members - your phone is your lifeline at work. So you need a high-quality, reliable service you can trust. No gimmicks. No confusion. Just straighttalking, no-nonsense deals that give you all the features you want. We’re delivering more talk and text, more data, more flexibility, and more coverage.

So why accept less when you can connect to more? Go Full Monty Our Full Monty plan is packed with all the features you want, including unlimited talk and text, access to a range of handsets and a massive 5GB of data, for just $80 a month. Plus, take advantage of data pooling, a free powerbank on sign-up and free two months’ credit when switching from another provider.

up your plan over the phone and it’ll be delivered straight to your door! 3. You get access to a dedicated Australian-based Helpdesk. When you ring you’ll be talking to someone located in your state, and chances are, you’ll get to speak to the same person every time. 4. Being with Telstra means you’ll get the widest coverage available in Australia, allowing you to stay connected while on the job.

Top five reasons to connect 1. It’s a plan for the industry – so you can rest assured that what you’re getting is tailored specifically for you.

5. Master Builders Connect delivers tailored, end-to-end solutions for businesses of all sizes – from small and medium businesses, right through to large-scale enterprise operations – scaling up or down to meet your key objectives.

2. You can be connected right from the comfort of your home or office – you don’t even need to leave your desk. Set

Call 1300 881 372 or visit and connect to more. The Master Electrician

Spring 2016


industry chatter Welcome to Industry Chatter where we ask three members from across the country about everything from their business beginnings to their favourite gadgets and top business tips.







PERTH, WA Providing stellar customer service is key to Adam’s success as an electrical contractor. A friendly smile never goes out of fashion!

SYDNEY, NSW Mick is a seasoned sparkie who made the transition from being an engineer in Sweden to setting up his own electrical contracting business in Australia.

CAIRNS, QLD Leo has been involved in the electrical industry for a whopping 42 years and prides himself on delivering a service that exceeds his clients’ expectations.

LET’S GET INTO IT How long have you been in the electrical industry? Adam: I have been in the industry 20 years. Mikael: I’ve been a licensed electrician since 1995 and before that an engineer in Sweden. Leo: Approximately 42 years.

When did you launch your business, and what was the catalyst? Adam: I launched Ace in 2006. The main motivation was being able to push myself further as I believed at the time that there was a fear of becoming stale and stuck in a rut. Hopefully creating a future for my children.

Mikael: We launched the business in 1995 after I attained my license and built incrementally whilst I was the main carer for our two sons, Ethan and Declan. Leo: I started my own business in 2003 after being part of another company from 1990 as a director and shareholder.

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What motto do you do business by? Adam: Customer service the old fashioned way is always the best. Always honour your booking times and have a friendly voice on the other end of the phone. Mikael: Our business strapline is ‘efficient energy solutions’ which means we have a strong belief in clean energy and that as a business we have an expertise in cost efficient solutions for our clients. Leo: We do a lot of work in hospitals so an appreciation that we work to the best of our abilities as it could be our family or friends being cared for in the facilities. How do you manage the family/work life balance? Adam: Mmmm… something that I could spend more time on. It can be very hard to manage when you’re a service/breakdown type of business. Although having my own business enables me to take time off

“... we run a paperless system out in the field replaced with iPads, which has a very positive response from our customers.” Adam Taylor

during work hours to take my little boy Riley to school events, which I love to do. Mikael: The business is quite seasonal, so not so busy in January so we holiday throughout that period. When we’re busy my wife takes care of everything that is not electrical related across the business. My two sons are old enough to work with me when required and then resume their educational commitments when demand subsides. So, we have a model which can cope with the everyday and then ramp up maybe 50 per cent if and when required.

“I can see quite clearly which parts of our business plan is and isn’t working and make changes accordingly. I make business decisions together with my wife and I’m free to explore any and all business opportunities in the market without the hindrance of reporting to an employer or partner.” Mikael Carlsson

Leo: Very difficult with any business unless your family is part of the business; being organised and a timetable helps. However, being involved in sport, for example, gives you time to support your family with their endeavours. What’s the most rewarding part of running your business? Adam: Being able to watch our apprentices grow into great sparkies. Meeting a great range of people and building strong relationships with them. Mikael: I can see quite clearly which parts of our business plan is and isn’t working and make changes accordingly. I make business decisions together with my wife and I’m free to explore any and all business opportunities in the market without the hindrance of reporting to an employer or partner. Leo: Having your clients receive a product that is beyond their expectations and becoming part of your business legacy. The Master Electrician

Spring 2016


With so much technology and social media platforms available at our fingertips, what strategies do you use to retain customers? Adam: We have a website and Facebook page that works well for our customers to see what kind of jobs we service/install. Also we run a paperless system out in the field replaced with iPads, which has a very positive response from our customers.

“With so much media via all forms of technology, you cannot go past a face to face ‘real time’ meeting to keep your clients up to date and aware of changes.” Leo Ward

Mikael: We are in the process of updating our website so that it is responsive and optimised for mobile devices. We maintain a CRM and deploy both email and text notifications to the database on a monthly basis. We have confined our social presence to a few key platforms and use content generated from our blog to drive engagement. Leo: With so much media via all forms of technology, you cannot go past a face to

face ‘real time’ meeting to keep your clients up to date and aware of changes. Follow ups from these meetings via email or other written form supports your intention of ongoing support. What’s the most important issue facing the electrical industry at the moment? Adam: Compliance with the regulators and staying in touch with standards (rulebook) changes. Safety is also hard to manage, however having Alan from MEA is a huge help. Mikael: The extent to which the Australian education system handles the change from a resource economy to a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics centre of excellence and how that impacts the level of sophistication in the electrical industry. Additionally, it will be interesting to see the impact of machine learning on the industry in the next 25 years. I see these as the two interrelated game changers. Leo: Consistency – keeping the basics simple and understanding the rules (Australian Standards) and complying with them. Another issue is similar to other fields, where we need to be considered as a smart profession and not be dumbed down by external sources or influencers. What tip would you give to someone just starting out as an electrical contractor? Adam: Spend the time setting up your business infrastructure from the first day – it’s very easy to get bogged down

“Be prepared to work very hard, do not be afraid to ask people for help, most people are kind and are glad to give you a hand. Be remarkable.” Mikael Carlsson

in paperwork so by implementing a job management system via iPad is a great start. Stay true to what you know and build a business around a specific area rather than getting caught up chasing your tail with non-profit jobs. Mikael: Be prepared to work very hard, do not be afraid to ask people for help, most people are kind and are glad to give you a hand. Be remarkable. You don’t need to be perfect, you need to be better than the competitive set. Be prepared to reject client briefs that are unreasonable and unprofitable. Have a strategy to handle the bottom feeders in the electrical industry. Leo: Post apprenticeship experience including gaining additional certificate IV qualifications will stand them in great stead and an understanding of how to estimate and gauge their worth in this wonderful profession.



As a ME Member, you’re right to expect we’ll bring you more of the good stuff. That’s why we’ve teamed up with Master Builders Connect, a service that connects you to more exclusive offers and mates rates from Telstra. We know the trade. And we know what’s important to our members—your phone is your lifeline at work. Our special offer: unlimited Standard National calls, MMS and SMS and Voicemail retrievals to most fixed and mobile numbers in Australia. Plus, a huge 5GB data a month.


For more great deals, visit or call us on 1300 889 198



Get active – improve your mood and stress less! Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, but do you know that your physical health can play a huge role in improving your mental wellbeing? With National Mental Health Week just around the corner from 9-15 October, we’ve asked our friends at BUPA to share their top tips on how to manage stress. There are many good reasons to learn to manage stress. While stress generally starts inside your head and can affect your mood and your sleep, it can have adverse effects on your physical health as well. Stress and your health If you’re constantly under stress for any reason, your body can be exposed to higher-than-normal levels of hormones such as cortisol,

adrenaline and noradrenaline – and this can affect your health, contributing to a range of problems from headaches to depression and even high blood pressure. People who are stressed may also be less likely to eat well or take time to exercise, or may use ways to cope with stress that can damage their health such as over-eating, smoking or over-use of alcohol and other drugs. But an antidote may be at hand – regular exercise.


How can exercise help manage stress? Although research has found that regular exercise can help reduce anxiety and improve mood, it’s not yet known why. Possible reasons are that regular exercise: • Helps boost production of ‘feel-good’ chemicals (endorphins and serotonin) in your brain; • Helps distract your mind from anxious thoughts – whether you’re taking aim at a soccer ball or trying to get a yoga posture right, you’re focused on the activity rather than on your stress; • Helps improve sleep – lack of sleep has been found to contribute to stress and may also increase the risk of depression; and • Helps increase your energy levels. What exercise can I do to help improve my mood? It’s important to choose an activity you enjoy that fits easily into your lifestyle, not one that creates more stress. Research suggests that both aerobic activity (exercise that significantly raises your heart rate, such as jogging, cycling and swimming) and resistance exercises (such as weight training or pilates) may be helpful for improving mood. No matter what activity you choose or what intensity you exercise at, every little bit can be beneficial to help

“No matter what activity you choose or what intensity you exercise at, every little bit can be beneficial to help improve your mental and physical health.”

improve your mental and physical health. Tips for making an exercise habit stick • Schedule regular exercise into your calendar just like any other commitment; • Exercise with a friend or in a group; and • Mix it up – going for a walk is great, but so is going for a bike ride, a swim or a dancing class. For more information, visit Black Dog Institute – or beyondblue – The Master Electrician

Spring 2016



ME Training: raising the bar for apprentice training and education Master Electricians Training was established in response to demand from the industry to provide innovative solutions to address the skills needs of the electrical contractor market. ME Training is delivering customercentric and fully flexible training options for employers and their apprentices in Queensland and Western Australia.

TAKING on an apprentice is a big commitment – as an employer you are responsible for overseeing and developing both their practical skills and theoretical knowledge, while at the same time trying to

maximise the productivity and performance of your business. So, what if there was a way for you to get the most out of your apprentice, while ensuring they are developing the

skills necessary to be successful in the industry, and maintaining, if not improving, productivity and performance? ME Training has been developed to help achieve exactly this and is raising the bar in the training and education of Australian apprentices.


ME Training offers employers and apprentices a unique and highly effective training option, one that is customised to suit individual businesses and apprentices. The key to ME Training is the flexibility it allows – apprentices can complete their studies either on campus, in the work place or online through the Trades Future Platform, an engaging training platform delivered via laptop, tablet or phone, enabling you and your staff access to training 24/7. Throughout the life of the apprenticeship, an industry-experienced trainer provides personalised, one-on-one support to both the apprentice and the employer. The work the apprentice is doing every day, on the job, is recognised which means less time ‘off the job’ to meet the requirements of the apprenticeship. Tammy Stanton from Platinum Electricians Morningside in Brisbane said she could not be happier with the flexible learning options ME Training has provided to her apprentices. “The system is technologically advanced to allow those capable of undertaking self-directed learning to easily manage their learning, and the employer to track their progress,” Ms Stanton said. “The best component of the flexible learning option is the support that ME Training provides both the student and the employer. We have a dedicated industry professional that can help with every issue or problem that might be encountered. “ME Training has understood the needs of our business and been able to provide the best learning environment for our apprentices, coupled with the support, which is invaluable.” Why ME Training? • Customised training that reflects industry needs and produces highly capable apprentices • Increased control of training for employers and apprentices • Ongoing, consistent support from industry-experienced trainers and industry development managers • Easier and more attractive avenues for employers taking on apprentices The Trades Future approach removes the remote location as a barrier and allows apprentices access to world-class training irrespective of their location, with less time off the job. To top it all off, ME Training offers electricians lifelong learning options with post-apprenticeship training and refresher courses in areas such as instrumentation, hazardous areas and photovoltaic systems including battery storage. And ME Training offers a full suite of management courses, to prepare you to run and manage your own business. It is this continuity of learning and skill development that makes ME Training so unique. MEA CEO Malcolm Richards said the industry had long recognised the need for a more flexible approach to apprenticeships. “Master Electricians Training has responded to this need with the backing of industry experts, and is producing apprentices that add real value back into our members’ businesses,” Mr Richards said. “They are the future of our industry and ensuring they complete their training to the highest possible standard means the next generation will be equipped to handle the challenges ahead.” The Master Electrician

Spring 2016


meet a master electrician

Name: Carl Kotz Company: Kotz Electrical State: South Australia Status: ME member for 1 year

Kotz Electrical is a proud family business started more than 40 years ago by Eric and Kaylene Kotz, and in this time has grown to become one of the most prominent electrical firms servicing South Australia’s Lower Eyre Peninsula. In the last couple of years, the company switched hands, and is now owned by Eric and Kaylene’s son and daughter-in-law, Carl and Kylie Kotz. Elise Hodge chats to Owner/Director Carl about business, family and the future.

Have you always lived in Port Lincoln? Tell me about life growing up. I grew up in Tumby Bay about 50km North of Port Lincoln. Tumby is a small coastal country town. I grew spending as much time on the water as I could. I also played a lot of sport from a young age. Being around the electrical industry from such a young age, was it just a natural progression for you to take over the business? Yes, that is normally how it works in the country! But you would say you’ve ran the place for the last 10 years, while your dad was doing a lot of electrical work in the South Pacific – he sounds like a very interesting man! My dad, Eric Kotz, is sort of retired after 50 years working in every state in Australia and managing a major electrical project in Fiji (until the military coup put an end to that).

In retirement he mentors us and often other emerging contractors work programs, grudgingly helps out on the tools occasionally, but mainly pursues his passion for writing. He currently has his first book The Butcher’s Son from Tumby Bay (a tonguein-cheek autobiography) in its third edition and his second book ‘The Jawesome Coast’ (a social history of the growing impact of the Great White Shark on our coastal lifestyle) in its second edition. What’s it been like taking over from your dad? The company has become very diverse over the years, with the current major focus on solar, but also specialises in underfloor heating, home automation, ducted vacuum systems and also has a decorative lighting retail outlet run in conjunction. After dad retired recently, myself and my wife Kylie stepped up to take over management of the business. My brother Lance still works for the family business but at Strathalbyn where he moved to

support his wife Stacey (an ex jockey and now a registered Trainer) with her horseracing stable. Tom Neindorf, our field supervisor, came through the apprenticeship system with us 10 years ago, and Deb Wilson, who is the office manager/sales, are both regarded as ‘family’. The company usually runs at least one apprentice. You’ve been married for nine years. Tell me about family life. Yes. I am married to Kylie – we got married in 2007 in the Adelaide hills. We have no children of our own but we have followed a family tradition of fostering for Families SA, and regularly have ‘additions’ to our family (usually two at a time and siblings), which keeps us fairly busy. Have you found that magic work/life balance yet? No – but I‘m working on it, and open to any helpful suggestions! Like most small electrical contracting firms, the administration and constantly increasing


The team from Kotz Electrical – (L to R) Tom Niendorf, Eric Kotz, Kylie Kotz and Carl Kotz.

bookwork eats into valuable recreational time. But we are a close family and that always helps, as does the support we get from Master Electricians Australia, which is always appreciated. What’s your favourite place to take a break and getaway? There is as small group of islands just off Tumby Bay called the Sir Joseph Banks Group or ‘the Groups’ to locals – love getting out there when we can. My favourite holiday hotspot would be anywhere in the South Pacific. What do you have in mind for the future of Kotz Electrical? Retain as a close knit and more easily managed family business with loyal and trusted employees. Concentrate on niche markets that we have developed special expertise in to capitalise on the training we have undertaken and even out the highs and lows of a small business in a semi-rural area. Keep up with technology, particularly with regard to alternative energy systems, like solar and wind power, and maintain our leadership in these fields in our area. The Master Electrician

Spring 2016


the buzz

Solar companies partner to light up the days for sick kids A 30 kilowatt rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) system has been donated to a children’s charity in a combined effort from three solar companies – Enphase Energy, Living Energy and Suntech. The charity, TLC for Kids, is dedicated to providing support to sick kids and their families during challenging times. Valued at $50,000, the donated solar PV system will provide almost 100 per cent of the charity’s energy during the day, resulting in savings of up to $350,000 from power bills during the system’s operation lifetime. This will allow TLC for Kids to redirect funding towards crucial services in more than 400 children’s hospitals across Australia. 122 Enphase Micro inverters and Suntech Tier One solar PV models were provided as a part of the installation, which was designed and installed by Living Energy Solutions at the TLC for Kids headquarters in Victoria. The system was donated at a fundraising event at Progression Fitness Club, owned

by Collingwood Football Club Captain Scott Pendlebury and his wife Alex. Collingwood players and celebrity supporters rallied behind the full day event where guests had the chance to play off against Scott in a trick shot challenge to raise funds for TLC for Kids. TLC for Kids CEO and 2014 Australian of the Year Local Hero recipient Tim Conolan welcomed the donation.

“Sourcing energy from the sun will make a significant reduction to their electricity bills, allowing TLC for Kids to funnel valuable donations to those who need it most,” Mr Novak said. “Suntech are proud to support TLC for Kids with our donation of solar panels.” Living Energy Director Ben Lovell said it was an important project to be a part of.

“We are touched by this amazing show of generosity and would like to extend our sincere thanks to Enphase, Living Energy and Suntech,” Mr Conolan said.

“Solar is a great way for charities to future-proof themselves for years to come, and Living Energy is privileged to be in a position to be able to give back in this way,” Mr Lovell said.

Suntech Australia National Sales Manager Peter Novak said that charities like TLC were finding the rising cost of energy an extra burden on resourcing.

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SafeWork NSW issues ladder safety warning SafeWork NSW has issued a reminder to NSW businesses to work safely with ladders after one worker was killed and four were seriously injured in falls over the past two months. A 58-year-old electrical contractor suffered fatal head injuries when he fell three metres from a ladder at a Smithfield business in June. Other incidents involved a 38-year-old form worker who suffered a fractured skull when he fell two metres from a ladder at a Surry Hills construction site earlier this month and a 39-year-old roofer who ended up with a broken pelvis and internal injuries after falling from a ladder at a Dural property in May. SafeWork NSW Executive Director Peter Dunphy said most incidents occurred due to incorrect or inappropriate use and that, where possible, other safer alternatives should be used. “Ladders are used in workplaces throughout NSW but they need to be used safely to prevent the risk of serious injury,” Mr Dunphy said.

“This is highlighted by the fact that between July 2011 and 31 May 2016, 3,168 workers were injured in falls from ladders, including two fatalities at a total cost of $54.5 million to the NSW worker’s compensation system. “Ladders should only be used for simple access or short periods and businesses must have safety measures in place.” SafeWork NSW has made the following recommendations: 1. Businesses should only use ladders on flat, stable surfaces and workers should only take small items up or down them; 2. Three points of contact should be maintained with the ladder at all times, that is, two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand on the ladder. And never lean or reach away from the ladder while using it; and 3. A-frame ladders should always be set up in the fully open position. If you’re using an extension ladder, secure it at the top or the bottom, or even at both ends to stop it slipping.

“Also consider whether other safer alternatives are more appropriate, such as scaffolding and elevated work platforms such as scissor lifts or cherry pickers,” Mr Dunphy said. “Tragically, a worker will not be coming home to his family tonight as a result of falling from a ladder at work but if more NSW businesses adopt these safety measures, fewer families will have to experience the terrible consequences of a workplace incident.” To help businesses work safely with ladders, SafeWork NSW has produced a safety video that can be viewed on a computer, smart phone or tablet device. It provides practical tips that can be easily implemented in the workplace “Don’t wait until there’s a death or injury from a fall from a ladder at your workplace. View the video today and learn how you can make your workers safe,” Mr Dunphy said. View the video at health-and-safety/safety-topics-a-z/ ladders

All-Energy Australia releases stellar line up for conference Organisers have opened registrations to attend All-Energy Australia Exhibition and Conference, which will take place at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre on 4–5 October 2016. AGL Chief Executive Officer Andy Vesey will deliver his national keynote address on the shifts towards a clean energy and consumer centred energy market. He will also take part in a compelling panel discussion as part of the Opening Plenary on this same topic chaired by the Clean Energy Council’s Chief Executive Kane Thornton. Thornton and Vesey will be joined by one of Australia’s fastest growing retailers, Powershop Chief Executive Ed McManus to discuss if the industry is equipped and adaptive enough to stay ahead of the shifting consumer tides. State and Federal Ministerial welcomes will feature in this session also. All-Energy Australia Exhibition Director Robby Clark said delegates could expect a number of new elements in this year’s conference line up.

“We’re always looking for ways to innovate, which includes the ongoing strategic partnership with the Clean Energy Council and this year’s partnership with the Australian Technologies Competition which is sure to pique the interest of the investment sector in our free, two-day event,” Mr Clark said. Leading exhibitors confirmed include Canadian Solar Australia, ABB Australia Pty Limited, Jinko Solar, Fronius Australia, Trina Solar, SMA Australia, Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd, Enphase Energy, RES Australia, Clenergy, MPower, Victron, Redback, Ingeteam, RF Industries, Solax Power, Schletter, IMEON Energy, AC Solar Warehouse, IPD and Outback Power. Highlights will include SMA Australia’s recently developed Sunny Boy Storage battery inverter, which has been designed for high voltage batteries like the Tesla Powerall, Enphase Energy’s Enphase Home Energy Solution and ABB’s REACT (Renewable Energy Accumulator and Conversion Technology).

“It’s all about maximising the visitor’s time while onsite at All-Energy to ensure their business objectives are met and their expectations exceeded,” Mr Clark said. “As Australia’s single largest, free, clean and renewable energy conference and exhibition, there is a lot to pack into two days and so we want to make their experience as simple and useful as possible.” The conference schedule is structured around 12 session categories: bioenergy, community energy, energy efficiency, energy storage, government initiatives, low carbon transport, market developments, new technology and innovation, project development, smart grid, solar and wind. Presentations will be made by more than 150 industry leaders from organisations such as CSIRO, the Clean Energy Regulator, The World Wind Association, AECOM, Huawei, Transgrid and Citipower/Powercor. To access the 2016 program and register for free, visit the All‑Energy Australia website –


gadget guide



Environexus is an affordable, scalable retrofit wireless automation solution with the ability to integrate lighting, energy management, security, communication and other functionalities. With cost effectiveness at its core, the wireless products can be integrated into projects that require simple scalable solutions for existing installations.

The new EFO AUTOTRIP is designed to reduce RCD testing time. It has two automatic test sequence functions, Quick Auto (2 Tests): 30mA x1 at 00 & 1800 and Full Auto (6 Tests): 30mA x½, x1, x5 at 00 & 1800. This allows the operator to set the test to run, whilst resetting the RCD at the distribution board during the test cycle and then returning to the instrument to recall the trip time results (ms).

NERO’s Australian designed wizard-based operating system offers advanced settings that allow system integrators to customise each installation. The system is controlled via the home owners smart phone or tablet, so all the connected devices, such as dimmers, relays, dry contact, plug packs, security and sensors, can be merged seamlessly into one platform.

ORBI-SAW Gone are the days where electrical trade professionals had to hand measure and laboriously cut out holes for switches or power points using templates and plaster saws, chewing up time and efficiency. The Higgins-Brown Group have developed the ORBI-SAW.

Additional design features include a hands free function for rapid repeat testing at distribution boards, pass/fail results and a diagnostic ramp test (mA). The device is supplied with a calibration report and socket outlet test lead.

The fast and reliable battery drill attachment quickly and cleanly cuts perfect electrical accessories the first time, every time. The ORBI-SAW uses a rapid orbital motion to quickly and cleanly cut through plaster, eliminating the need to meticulously trace and cut the desired mould by hand. With an average cutting time of six seconds, cut outs have never been simpler or more accurate.

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The Master Electrician

Spring 2016



ME Mentoring: Turning the tide on apprenticeship drop-outs Easy to work with; takes direction; fits in with the culture; shows initiative; or all of the above? When hiring an apprentice, what is it you’re looking for, and how can you be sure they’ll go the distance? There are times in business when you take steps toward solving a problem, but inadvertently create more problems than you actually solve in the process. Unfortunately for some contractors, this has been the case when they’ve hired an apprentice.

Completion rates in the electrical industry continue to fall, with less than half ever actually finishing. But this drop-out trend costs your business time and money, it costs the electrical industry time and money, and it costs the federal government

time and money. You are investing in up to four years of on-the-job training, so finding, and hiring, the right candidate has never been more critical! Add Staff Recruitment’s Melissa Stanford says finding the right fit for the job can be a


challenge, particularly when you’re already struggling to keep up with your workload. “Not having a recruitment strategy could be costing your business dearly. Many contractors leave recruiting until they’re desperate for staff, but as a business owner, you should always be on the lookout for industry talent,” Ms Stanford says. “You’re also far more likely to spend less time on a formal interview and recruitment processes as well as your due diligence, when you need that extra pair of hands immediately,” she says. While completion rates have a natural variance between industries, there is evidence that a lack of pre-apprenticeship career advice affects completion rates, regardless of the industry. “You have to plan ahead to make sure your apprentice begins with a really strong understanding of what will be expected of them, and to know that they have the right foundational skills to complete four years of training.” Ms Stanford advises that planning ahead and building a company profile are essential steps when creating a strong and successful recruitment process. “Asking yourself questions about where you see your business in the next six to 12 months and where you will find new industry talent to facilitate this plan, is a great place to start.” MEA has teamed up with Add Staff to create Master Electricians Mentoring (which will replace ApprenticeConnect),

a joint initiative aimed at finding the right candidate for the job – one who has what it takes to complete their fouryear indenture.

There are now fewer than 280,000 apprentices and trainees in Australia – a marked difference from just four years ago, when that number was closer to 516,000.

“We are industry experts and have been helping trades industries, including respected industry bodies and global recruitment leaders, for more than 15 years,” Ms Stanford says.

A Federal Government report released earlier in the year predicted commencement and completion rates to drop even further. Additionally, general electricians and special class electricians are on the National Skills Needs List, meaning our industry is already falling behind.

Master Electricians Mentoring is an entirely new support model for electrical contractors, aimed at curbing the alarmingly low completion rates in Australia, and minimising the impact of cancellations through a structured recruitment process – a critical element for determining apprenticeship suitability. “We’re looking forward to helping busy electrical contractors with their recruitment through an industry-focussed and targeted approach to staffing solutions, and through our suite of services to accommodate the needs of small, medium and large contractors, right across Australia,” Ms Stanford says. It will incorporate aptitude and job suitability assessments, comprehensive reference checks, identification verification and eligibility criteria evaluation, followed by comprehensive face-to-face interviews, to make sure the potential apprentice is aware of the commitment required to become a fully-qualified electrician. But in addition to falling completion rates, commencement rates are also plummeting – a situation that is creating the perfect storm for a major skills shortage in the not-too-distant future.

“You have to plan ahead to make sure your apprentice begins with a really strong understanding of what will be expected of them, and to know that they have the right foundational skills to complete four years of training.”

Apprentice mentoring will also form a key component of this revamped, fully integrated and interactive system, providing support to employers and their indentured apprentices for the duration of their apprenticeship contract, alongside business administrative processes and compliance documentation. “Starting out an apprenticeship with dedicated, structured mentorship is a great way to build strong self-esteem and confidence among younger workers,” Ms Stanford says. A mentorship can flourish though the provision of mutual benefits, confidentiality, honesty, flexibility, leadership by example, and making the most of both listening and learning opportunities. “Advice, support and constructive criticism, from a trusted mentor, is critical to helping an apprentice learn and grow,” she says. Master Electricians Mentoring will reach further than ever before to create highlyskilled electrical apprentices and create a brighter future for the electrical industry, and Master Electricians Australia is looking forward to working closely with members to help turn the tide on apprenticeship dropouts, help create highly-skilled electrical apprentices, and create a brighter future for the electrical industry. For more information, visit The Master Electrician

Spring 2016


the interview

Brooke Hanson As a former world record holder, sixtime world champion, popular television presenter, wife, mum of Cooper, Billy and Matilda, (and baby Jack, who lost his battle with chronic lung disease in 2013), business owner, charity worker and motivational speaker, she is contagiously effervescent, fiercely loyal, and incredibly giving of her time – despite being busier than a centipede skipping! But the Gold Coast-based Discover Downunder co-host is also an outspoken advocate on electrical safety – the brand ambassador and now Regional Franchisor for Jim’s Test and Tag – after suffering a severe electric shock after getting out of a swim spa at a pool and spa show in Melbourne in 2007.

The last 15 years of your life have been nothing short of remarkable. What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned along the way? It’s been an incredible ride, the last 15 years have been full of highest of highs and lowest of lows, and the lessons continue to come daily. I’ve learned to find happiness from within and be true to myself and listen to my inner voice. Our four children – three sons Cooper, Jack and Billy and daughter Matilda – have taught me the importance of life, love and that no matter what happens, family always comes first. Each morning I wake up knowing that our future looks bright as we cherish every moment we have together. The kids have taught me the most important lesson; the freedom to just be. When you were just a wee little tot of five you won a kids’ doggie paddle event, by swimming breaststroke! I imagine this was quite a surprise – how many bets did your parents and swim teacher make that day that you’d be standing on the Olympic podium one day? Yes I still remember that race. I nearly drowned twice as a toddler and Mum and Dad made sure I had swimming lessons straight away. I loved the water and won my first race at the age of five. It was a 15m freestyle race and I swam breaststroke and still won! And I have loved swimming ever since. My parents and teachers always knew I had a natural ability but I wasn’t a gifted athlete so I had to work bloody hard for everything I achieved. My parents were both athletes themselves and they understood better than anyone that only a select few make it to the top. It’s a far cry from that first experience in the water, when you almost drowned? My connection with the water started very young, I had the need to be in water and was so fortunate that my parents saved me twice from what may have been tragic accidents after I jumped in the pool without knowing how to swim. I’ve always been a water baby and I’m certain that my upbringing helped me to connect with the water on a very spiritual level. I grew up in Manly on the Northern Beaches in Sydney, I have fond memories of my childhood and the time my family and I spent around the water, whether it be in the swimming pool, creek, beach, dam or harbour. Without doubt my love of water and the connection I have with swimming and the motivation to race paved the way to my success on a world stage. Your story was one of the real successes of the 2004 Olympics – you missed out by a whisker in both 1996 and in 2000, but then went on to win gold and silver medals in Athens. What did it take to finally reach your dream?


It took 20 years of blood, sweat and tears, filled with so much elation, reward and success. Many 4.15am wake ups, 70km of swimming each week up and down a black line, gym sessions, high carbohydrate diets, recovery techniques including stretching, spas, ice baths, massage and physiotherapy. Pushing my body beyond its limits on a daily basis, I was so proud that I overcame the obstacles, hurdles, missed teams, injuries and setbacks and that I never gave up on my dream, believing in myself and my goal. The outcome is Olympic gold and silver medals, eight World Championship gold medals and a world record. But the journey to achieve these results was more satisfying than the achievements themselves. But things changed in an instant in 2007 – just weeks after marrying husband Jared Clarke – when you stepped out of a swim spa (a small pool that produces a current to swim against) and collapsed – irreparably injuring your shoulder in the process – after suffering a severe electric shock. How did that moment change your life? Everything that was important to me before that moment didn’t seem to be a big deal anymore. I remember thinking that if that was the last day I was going to live there was so much more that I wanted to achieve beyond my Olympic success. I became passionate about electrical safety and wanted to do everything I could to raise awareness of the dangers of electricity, particularly when it came to faulty electrical cords and water. Your work with Jim’s Test & Tag in raising public awareness about electrical safety is of course now a personal mission – what do you hope to achieve by being an advocate for this issue? I always align myself with organisations I’m passionate about and after my electric shock I became an ambassador for Jim’s Test & Tag. I’m an advocate for electrical safety at home and in the workplace and think it’s so important to continue to promote electrical safety. My husband Jared Clarke and I have recently moved to the Gold Coast and purchased a Jim’s Test & Tag and Fire Safety franchise. I’m looking forward to the assistance we can provide by getting workplaces safe and compliant. We are really enjoying our new venture as franchisors for Jim’s Test &Tag (Northern NSW – we’re on 131 546!). Couple the test and tagging service with emergency lights and emergency exit lights and it’s great to be providing a combined specialised service to local businesses and keeping Aussies safe. Your father, Ian, saved your life all those years ago when you nearly drowned, and he was right there beside you, desperately trying to keep you awake after your electric shock (along with your sister Jade, who was also shocked in the incident). You are clearly very close to your family – how have they influenced your life and career? The Master Electrician

Spring 2016


Behind every Olympian there is an incredible support team and my family are amazing. They say you can’t choose your family, well if you could I would pick mine every day of the week! They have always provided me unconditional support in everything I set out to achieve and sharing my success with them during my swimming career and beyond is so wonderful. We are a very close family, full of outgoing personalities. We are a positive family which might be a bit too over the top for some but we all have a love of life and make the most of our time together when we all come together to catch up! You’re rarely without your three little munchkins Cooper, Billy and Matilda, and it’s now been more than five years since you lost your little angel Jack, who fought for nine months after being born 12 weeks premature. How important are organisations like Life’s Little Treasures in supporting parents and families through such an unimaginable tragedy, and how do you continue to support this wonderful group? I’m a proud ambassador for Life’s Little Treasures Foundation, which is a valuable organisation established to help families on the journey through premature birth. I’m passionate about spreading the message to all parents of premature babies that they are not alone. It’s wonderful to give advice to parents of premature babies, Jared and I tell them to embrace every moment, trust the medical staff, be true to themselves, communicate with your partner and always know there is no right or wrong way with how to cope.

As well as actively promoting the foundation through media events, commercials and promotions, we get involved with the biggest yearly event, the Walk For Prems which is held at venues around Australia. This year it’s on October 23, so go to and register to help raise funds for a great cause. Or for more information and to help out families, you can go to You’re certainly a very qualified motivational speaker and television presenter. What’s the best thing about being a public speaker and host? After the repetitive years of elite swimming, my days now are completely different. No day is ever the same and I love the variety I have at work as well as my social and personal life. I enjoy being a master of ceremonies at a range of different events and I do many keynote speaking engagements ranging from major corporations to sporting clubs and schools. I meet some incredible people and love sharing my story in hope that I can inspire one person to never give up on their dream. The best thing is that no day is ever the same. If there’s one golden piece of advice you could give to the world, what would it be? You only get one chance so live each day like it’s your last. And always smile, it’s the biggest lesson I’ve learnt. Never stop smiling, it’s contagious!

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your top 3 tech questions

Our hardworking technical team at Master Electricians Australia HQ help our members navigate issues they face in their day-to-day work life. From interpreting standards, regulations or legislation to advice with technical, safety or compliance matters, our guys know it all! And in the last year, our amazing team have answered more than 4,000 of your calls. Here are our answers to some of your most frequently asked questions. Q: Where can I find IP (International Protection) ratings to assess water proofing levels of equipment I need to install in a wet area? A: Appendix G in the Wiring Rules has a full description of both the mechanical and water proofing numbering system to determine the IP ratings for equipment. This system is also called Ingress Protection. Q: I need to determine an adequate form of mechanical protection for cables to be installed in a location that is open to

mechanical damage. Where do I find this information?

Q: Where can I find information on how many cables I can install in conduits?

A: Appendix H has information on the levels of mechanical protection required to meet a general Wiring Rules requirement for the protection of cables and electrical equipment.

A: Appendix C section 6 has guidance on the size, number of conductors and minimum conduit size to allow safe installation without damaging the cable insulation and conductors.

This is based on the WS system as set out in AS/NZS 3013 and covers installations such as safety services and installations that are considered high risk work environments.

It does not take into account the derating of the current carrying ability of cables. This is a separate consideration which is covered by AS/NZS 3008. The Master Electrician

Spring 2016


Blaine Image /


One death is one too many: what’s your safety system? As National Work Safe Month kicks off, we are asking all of you to do an audit of your business’ safety systems, to make sure your business doesn’t end up in the news for all the wrong reasons.

AS of August 5, as many as 109 families had buried a loved

one killed on the job this year, according to Safe Work Australia’s preliminary estimates. But on August 9, just days later, that number climbed to 110, after a 29-year-old worker was electrocuted by overhead powerlines while trimming trees on a North Queensland property. It’s a downward trend from previous years, but we believe even one death is one too many. In the electrical space, this year we’ve seen a former electrician killed while installing a power point for elderly family members in Queensland; a 24-year-old electrician electrocuted while working on the roof of a store in Melbourne; and just a day or two later,

a 21-year-old dairy farmer electrocuted while holding a pump at a drainage pit on a farm in rural Victoria. We’ve also read how a safety switch could have saved the life of a 20-year-old man electrocuted on a Top End prawn trawler; and watched as the electrical contractor in charge of the work site where Jason Garrels was electrocuted, was arrested and charged with the young man’s manslaughter. As we watch these (predominantly young) men’s families try and pick up the pieces and some of these men’s employers potentially face years of legal action (which can often lead to financial ruin), we want every one of you to undertake a full safety audit, followed by the implementation of a safety management plan.


“Simply put, the VEET scheme allows businesses to create Victorian Energy Efficiency Certificates (VEECs) for reducing energy use.”

Papuchalka /

The nation’s electrical industry is subject to some of the most stringent safety requirements in the developed world – and yet these largely preventable accidents still occur. Are we all doing every, single thing we can to make sure we are 100 per cent compliant? What safety mechanisms to do we have in place to make sure our staff go home to their families every night? And what arrangements do we have in place to be assured we’ve ticked every box if something outside of our control were to happen? Each state has its own system for dealing with workplace accidents – for example WorkCover Queensland offers a list of accredited auditors, South Australians have the Office of the Technical Regulator and Victorians have access to Energy Safe Victoria, however there are national workplace health and safety requirements that all contractors must adhere to.

Electrical Contractors

Master Electricians Australia understands the complex electrical regulatory framework. As such, we have a specially-designed and sophisticated health, safety, environment/energy and quality (HSEQ) management system to help our members navigate their safety obligations. ME Safety is an affordable option to run as an add-on, fee-for-service alongside MEA membership.

...A unique connection Focused, intelligent, straight-talking legal solutions...

It’s an integrated safety management system that we designed for the electrical industry to ensure the protection of both staff and customers through a series of checks and balances. We want to make sure that every employer, contractor or sole operator in this country is carrying out their safety obligations, and that they can legally protect themselves if, for example, an employee fails to meet theirs, and an injury or fatality occurs. Once implemented, the program dramatically reduces the risk of accidents and ensures the safety of workers. It also increases business productivity, customer satisfaction and product and service quality, and reduces errors and costs, but at this point in time the most important thing any of us can do is move swiftly to make sure our safety systems are up to scratch so that every person who heads off to work in the morning returns home safe and sound. To find out more, call Master Electricians Australia on 1300 889 198.

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The Master Electrician

Spring 2016

23/03/2016 12:04:16 PM


letter of the law

Surprise! … the adjudication systems are not free of ‘bureaucratic’ problems! Everyone in the contracting industry throughout Australia deserves to be paid on time and if they are not, to have any Adjudication Application under the relevant State or Territory Payment Claims laws dealt with in an appropriate manner and in a timely fashion. McKays Law explores. Contractors and lawyers alike can find dealing with bureaucracy frustrating at the best of times. A recent experience one of our clients had demonstrates just how bureaucratic the Payment Claim adjudication system can be, despite governments around the country having intended it to be simple and free of bureaucratic complications. It also gives some tips on what to do to avoid at least one of the ‘bureaucratic’

problems we have come across recently trying to help a contractor to get paid. The facts Our client had a payment dispute with a builder in Queensland. They had delivered a Payment Claim and the builder delivered a Payment Schedule within time under the relevant Payment


Claims Act. We prepared the Adjudication Application on behalf of our client and had it hand delivered to the QBCC Registry (which is the only place you can file an Adjudication Application in Queensland) on the last day for filing, but well before the closing deadline. The next day, to our surprise, the lawyer here at McKays handling the matter, Associate Crystal Ray, received an email from the Senior Adjudication Officer advising that there could be some problem with the Adjudication Application because of the time it was received. We found this very surprising and concerning, as if the Application had been filed after the deadline our client’s Application was doomed to fail. Accordingly, Crystal sent an email to the Senior Adjudication Officer providing evidence that the Adjudication Application had been delivered within time and requesting confirmation that this be acknowledged as correct and that the Application had been filed within time.

“A recent experience one of our clients had demonstrates just how bureaucratic the Payment Claim adjudication system can be despite the governments around the country having intended it to be simple and free of bureaucratic complications.”

Pleasingly, the Senior Adjudication Officer responded by email confirming that in fact the Adjudication Application had been received at the time we said and that their internal records would be amended to confirm the correct delivery date. So, no problem and all is looking good. In due course, the Adjudication Application together with the Adjudication Response, once submitted by the builder, was sent off to an Adjudicator for determination. The Adjudication decision To our astonishment the Adjudicator refused to deal with the Adjudication Application on the basis that he had no jurisdiction. He stated his reason for lack of jurisdiction was that the Adjudication Application bore a received date stamp showing the day after the Adjudication Application was actually submitted, which meant it was made out of time. We made further submissions to the Adjudicator even enclosing a copy of the email from the Senior Adjudication Officer confirming that the Application had been received within time. However the Adjudicator refused to take that or any other matters we raised into account relying on the received date stamp (which had apparently not been corrected before the Adjudication Application was sent to the Adjudicator despite what the Senior Adjudication Officer had intended and advised us) and the fact that the QBCC (in representing the Registrar under the Queensland Payments Claims Act) had processed the receipt of the filing fee we had paid when we delivered the Application, as having been received on the day after the Adjudication Application and fee had in fact been lodged.

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Spring 2016


Why did the QBCC put the ‘wrong’ date stamp on the Adjudication Application? The simple answer to this question seems to be that although the Adjudication Application was received over the counter at the Registry within time, it was not actually dealt with by the appropriate junior officer within the organisation until the next day when it was stamped with what was then the date and the receipt for the fee paid on behalf of our client to make the Adjudication Application was actually processed. What amazed and disappointed us and our client was that despite the Senior Adjudication Officer’s advice that this would be corrected, it was not and ultimately, in true Sir Humphry fashion, once it was sent off to the Adjudicator, he would only deal with it as if it had been filed the day after and not the day it had actually been filed, which was within time. In a sense, we were very fortunate that the Senior Adjudication Officer made contact with us, something which probably would not happen had it not been a law firm which had lodged the Application. However, at least at first instance, this turned out not to be of much assistance to us or our client. What happened? Needless to say, our client and everyone in the construction team involved with the application at McKays were extremely annoyed by this outcome! In consequence, McKays wrote to the Adjudication Registrar within the Registry, bitterly complaining about this unfair result and requesting redress. Whilst we are not at liberty to disclose the details of the confidential agreement with respect to the matter, at the end of the day, our client was able to make another Adjudication Application without additional cost, and we are pleased to report, the Application was 100% successful. What did the Adjudication Authority have to say? It is pleasing to report that the Adjudication Authority (which in this case was the QBCC), advised that it “will be reviewing the way in

which the QBCC processes parcels/documents received via the front counter”. However, this case serves as a warning that possibly the only safe way to ensure that your Adjudication Application and any Adjudication Response is appropriately dated and dealt with by the processing authority in the relevant State or Territory, is to ensure that your Application or Response is personally delivered to the relevant office and that you obtain in writing from the person to whom you give the document, a written, date stamped acknowledgment that they have received the relevant documentation at the time you presented it. We suggest you take an additional copy and have the Registry stamp the additional one with the date and time and you keep that additional copy. If the relevant authority is in the capital city of your State or Territory and you are not able to get there easily to personally file the documents our advice is to engage someone (such as lawyers) who can do that on your behalf. Otherwise you run the risk of having to go through all the problems our client had to face in this situation. If we had charged our client for all the time we spent trying to rectify this unfortunate outcome (which we did not), it would have been many thousands of dollars, so do not run the risk of incurring that type of cost and heed this warning. In closing, the QBCC has also recommended that in Queensland we all specifically “address parcels/ documents containing adjudication applications to ‘The Adjudication Registrar’” notwithstanding that the QBCC Registry is the only place you can lodge an Adjudication Application or Adjudication Response. We recommend that the same procedure, using the appropriate title in the relevant jurisdiction, be adopted in each State and Territory, to avoid any Sir Humphrey Appleby of “Yes Prime Minister” fame, type situations preventing you from receiving payment when you should. For further information or advice in relation to payment claims, contact McKays –


Wishing you were here? The Master Electricians Magazine is going digital! You can now choose to receive your copy by email or continue to receive your print copy. Your chance to win two passes! Update your subscription details online with the unique code on this magazine’s shipping address label and you could be visiting beautiful Noumea, New Caledonia, in September 2017 for the TransTasman Master Electricians Conference. Update your details and enter the competition at Terms and Conditions apply. If you do not update your subscription, you will be moved to receive a digital copy of The Master Electrician. NSW permit no. LTPS/ 16/07754, ACT TP 16/01943 and SA T16/1768


workplace relations

Your guide to workplace relations Workplace relations is a complex area that requires specialist advice. Our dedicated team of workplace relations officers provide members with specific advice regarding the interpretation of awards and legislation, employment procedures, contractual matters and industrial relations, via MEA’s workplace relations hotline each and every day. Here are two common questions our workplace relations team receives: Q: The employees have worked a long day and then a short day. Can I take the overtime from the first day to balance out the ‘short day’?

Further, an employee needs to be paid for the ordinary hours. If the

A: Generally; no.

receive payment for this normal day.

The award requires that the usual starting and finishing times are set for full-time and part-time workers. If an employee works beyond this usual finish time this is treated as overtime.

Overtime does not count towards ordinary hours, as such you

employer sends them home before this time they will still need to

cannot take the additional hours from the day before and apply them to short day.


If an employer knows that they will need to arrange the work differently it is possible to vary the normal working hours in consultation with the worker(s). However, this consultation should include the nature and effect of the change on hours. Q: The primary contractor is asking me for a copy of code compliance assessment. What is this? A: The Building Code encourages productivity and lawful workplace relations on building sites. It sets out the Australian Government’s expected standards for building contractors or building industry participants involved in Commonwealth funded construction projects. The Fair Work Building Construction authority (FWBC) assesses and regulates the arrangements and on site behaviours of building industry participants on construction sites. Contractors who make a new enterprise agreement, or vary an existing agreement, on or after 18 May 2016 will require an FWBC letter to demonstrate that the enterprise agreement complies with the Building Code 2013 if they want to express interest in or tender for Commonwealth funded building work for which the head contract was procured after 1 June 2016. For contractors who pay in accordance with the modern award, a letter of compliance with the Building Code 2013 is no longer required. For contractors who are only covered by enterprise agreement(s) made before 18 May 2016, an FWBC letter is also not required to demonstrate compliance with the Building Code 2013. These letters are available through – under the section related to enterprise agreement assessments. For more information, visit The Master Electrician

Spring 2016


social snaps

Master Electricians out and about Thanks to our members who attended our recent events. Were you there? See if you can find yourself in these pics, and keep up to date with upcoming events in the member portal at

Our Cairns Golf Day attendees enjoy a perfectly sunny day on the course!


These winners are grinners – Shaun Ramsey, Mark Graham, Richard Bain, Bob Graham and Mark Smedts at the Cairns Golf Day.

Congratulations to Viv who celebrates 25 years of MEA membership.

The Master Electrician

Spring 2016


social snaps

Queensland State Manager Gary Veenstra presents Mike Hattin from Coastal Installations with a 25-year membership award.

Keith celebrates 15 years of membership.

Bret celebrates 15 years of membership.

Kris Hendrikx from Hendrikx Electrical at Kingsholme receives his 15 year membership award.

Gary Veenstra presents Anne Lindsay with thank you gifts in recognition of her wonderful work as Gold Coast branch coordinator. We wish you all the best for the future, Anne!


(L to R) Alan Ellis, Danny Finnerty, and Rosie Buckridge enjoy a game of blackjack at our recent NSW casino night.

GOT A SNAP TO SHARE? Send ‘em through to: Danny Finnerty from Onsite Electrical is all smiles at our NSW casino night.

The Master Electrician

Spring 2016


the last word

Master Electricians membership – strength in numbers Late last year I used this column to talk with you about the process that Master Electricians Australia goes through in order to approve advertisers for this magazine. I indicated at the time that The Master Electrician is highly sought-after by advertisers due to its position as Australia’s leading electrical industry publication.

same tests for safety and financial stability in choosing our corporate partners that we apply in vetting potential advertisers. Once again, this costs us money as we knock back sponsorships and partnerships that could be very lucrative, but also have the potential to damage the MEA brand through shonky goods or services.

Each month we knock back several advertising requests because we have concerns about the products being offered for sale. In some cases we simply can’t be certain that imported products meet the high standards required in the Australian market. In other cases we’re not confident that the company requesting the advertising has the financial strength to stand behind their product in the event of a widespread recall. So for the protection of our members and the wider industry, we take a particularly cautious approach before approving advertisers.

The second guiding principle is respect for your time and resources. When ever we sign up a corporate partner, we want to ensure that the relationship is relevant and beneficial to members. We don’t want you – or your staff – having to wade through information from suppliers that can’t add value to your business. So whether it’s for vehicle leasing, health insurance, professional services or a range of other member benefits, we aim to source only the most useful and relevant opportunities for you. We then make all the information available to you through member bulletins, the MEA website and The Master Electrician, and allow you to instigate contact if you want to take advantage of the offers.

For the same reasons, we are also very careful about choosing commercial partners for Master Electricians Australia. Just as with the advertisers, we have many companies coming to us on a regular basis asking to join up in partnerships. We understand that they perceive a value in putting the Master Electricians Australia brand on their promotional material, and in gaining access to potential customers through our channels. So once again, we have implemented a very rigorous process for choosing corporate partners, and it has two guiding principles – respect for the Master Electricians Australia brand, and respect for your time and resources. The MEA brand belongs to you, the members, and we make no apology for being very choosy about the businesses we allow to partner with the association. You need to know that when a product or service is offered through a partnership with MEA, you can rely on it for quality in the same way that your customers rely on the MEA brand as a symbol of quality. So we apply the

So you can have every confidence when you are dealing with a partner organisation to maximise the benefits of your MEA membership that not only are you dealing with a quality organisation, but that your association is standing right behind you. I encourage you to have a good look at our various corporate partners. We do feature them through the magazine and on the website. They offer deals to MEA members that are not available to the general industry (and generally are as good as or better than the deals offered through other industry associations). Keep it in mind when you are making major purchasing decisions. Our membership team has already done the legwork for you in finding the best products and services, and negotiating the best price. It’s just another benefit of being a Master Electrician.


So fine, just stunning silhouette

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