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Master Builders ACT Response to the ACT Government's Report:

EDITION 2-2013 files/view/?id=594 MASTER BUILDERS EXECUTIVE COUNCIL President – Simon Butt Treasurer – Frank Porreca Chair, Commercial Builders’ Sector Council – Valdis Luks Chair, Suppliers and Subcontractors’ Sector Council – Grace Ferreira Chair, Residential Builders’ Sector Council – Frank Porreca Chair, Civil Contractors’ Sector Council – Andy Crompton Chair, Professional Consultants’ Sector Council – Hans Sommer MASTER BUILDERS MANAGEMENT TEAM Executive Director – John Miller Deputy Executive Director – Jerry Howard Director Industrial Relations – Mike Baldwin Senior Management Accountant – Louise MacCallum Senior Manager - Marketing & Membership Services – David Leitch MASTER BUILDERS GROUP TRAINING General Manager – Wendy Tengstrom

Master Builders Association of the ACT 1 Iron Knob St, Fyshwick ACT 2609 PO Box 1211, Fyshwick ACT 2609 Tel: (02) 6247 2099 Fax: (02) 6249 8374  Email: Web:

Y L E F A S E M GETTING HO Canberra’s peak building and construction industry organisation, Master Builders ACT has released details of findings from its review of the BriggsMcCabe Getting Home Safely report which has acknowledged the valuable contribution of the ACT Government commissioned report as well as highlighting further initiatives to improve safety on local building and construction sites. The executive director of the Master Builders Association of the ACT, John Miller, said the Master Builders Association appointed a high-level Working Group headed by Major-General Steve Gower to review the Briggs-McCabe Getting Home Safely report to enable the association to meet its obligations to its members and properly examine the findings and help focus on the MBA’S role in implementing the recommendations. The Working Group accepted the majority of the recommendations put forward. The Gower Review suggested the MBA-ACT could strengthen its safety training programs and service to its members by engaging a dedicated Work Health and Safety specialist. This is accepted and supported by the executive. Mr Miller said the Gower Review found that the Briggs-McCabe recommendations regarding the development of frameworks relating to the management of safety were not tasks an industry association such as the MBA could undertake. This is due to the diversity and size of organizations involved in the industry, and because safety management is a fundamental corporate governance matter that rests with building companies and developers. The Working Group largely accepted recommendation 27 but expressed concern that the recommendations from the earlier Civil Construction roundtable were not given greater prominence. “Looking after your mates' was a strong theme explored during the course of the

Gower Review and in keeping with a new training program recently implemented by the Master Builders and aimed at changing culture on building and construction sites, the Gower Review has recommended a specific course be developed and directed at worksite junior leaders. Mr Miller said, “Implementation of the recommendations of the Briggs-McCabe review should be oversighted by an active over-arching body that supports the ACT Work Safety Council. This should be the continuation of the Construction Safety Advisory Group formed after the release of the Getting Home Safely report or a group similar to the Civil Construction Safety Issues Advisory Committee established as a precursor to the Briggs-McCabe review'. “With the community’s current expectations very high on improvements around safety on construction worksites, the Gower Review believes it is now time to consider the introduction of random testing for impairment on worksites. This is in keeping with data for instance that suggests that the effects of drugs and alcohol on people working on building sites is unacceptably high and this initiative should be seen as no different to managing safety on our roads. “Master Builders is committed to playing its part and working with other stakeholders to continuously improve safety practices and outcomes on local building and construction sites. "As noted in the Briggs-McCabe Report “it is time for all elements to be united in this common cause”, concluded Mr. Miller


HAMMER hits the nail on the head

THE INFRASTRUCTURE GAP So, the “Big Australia” is coming. If we’re going to be bigger, maybe not as big as some were originally suggesting, that presents bountiful challenges to us as a nation. The most obvious of these is the infrastructure challenge. There are many reports demonstrating we already have a massive infrastructure deficit in this country. Some financial institutions have Australia’s existing infrastructure gap costed at between $600 and $700 billion. That’s a lot of roads, a lot of ports, rail connections, hospitals, and on it goes. Why is it that in a country so rich by comparison, standing out as a beacon against so many through the GFC, that we have failed to keep pace with our infrastructure needs? The very stuff needed to underpin our ability to keep performing is often but a figment of our imagination, a pipedream, and unfortunately a parochial political scrap waiting to be had. As our population steadily moves toward 29-30 million by 2030, we have to make greater provision for infrastructure. Commonwealth, State and Territory governments all will need to dig deeper to provide the leadership, in many cases the funds, and especially the environment to bring other investors to the infrastructure table.

Our desire to be the leader in the AsiaPacific with regard to humanitarian support is noble, is right and is accepted. Our hat is in the ring to be a big economic player in the region via the Asian Century paper. There is a difficult marriage to be had here. First things must come first though. If we can’t look after ourselves, how are we possibly going to look after others without damaging the economy? For this reason alone we have to urgently ramp up the infrastructure effort. There are calls to now increase the benchmark across the board for infrastructure spending as a percentage of GDP. It’s clear that this needs to happen if the deficit is indeed as significant as the reports are suggesting. Whatever the number is – 4%, 5%, 6% - we need to establish it quickly and stick with it. All too often we get waylaid at far too great a cost with all manner of things that are wonderful in a Utopian world. The problem with that is that we have to live with the concept of reality. All heartless sounding stuff for dreamers who have never grappled with balancing the books but a conversation with some Cypriot citizens will soon put you straight about what happens when the books don’t balance. We’re certainly not in that place but it can happen.

The flow on benefits of infrastructure investment and the creation of work in the building and construction industry is well understood. How we are spending our money in this country needs closer scrutiny at all levels of government. Like any business, failure to invest in critical areas can leave you suffering on other fronts. Too much emphasis on the non-productive is just not sustainable. The drivers of economic activity must be brought back to the front of the queue. They have been allowed to take a back seat for far too long now and because of this our ability to be the humanitarian and economic leader of the region has the potential to be hammered.

Following contractors cause grief for original builders. We receive far too many calls from builders expressing their anguish when they are being blamed for work undertaken by trades engaged by the owners well after the builder has completed writes Jerry Howard. Some of these problems relate to water leaks following the installation of TV antennas, but some of the more serious problems relate to the installation of air-conditioning units and skylights. The following is an example of a recent incident that occurred in a residential building where the house has been completed for six years: The owners noticed defects in the ceiling plasterboard and contacted the builder. The builder investigated the issue to discover that an evaporative cooling unit had been installed in the house by other contractors. The contractors had cut a section of the top chord bracing of the roof trusses. This, in turn, caused the trusses to buckle which caused fracturing to the plasterboard ceiling. In this case the roof tile battens had also been cut to install the unit. Roof trusses are engineered timber products and must be installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s requirements.

units and skylights in roofs where engineered timber products, such as roof trusses, have been installed. We find that the typical response from all of these contractors, is when they are confronted, they simply say that their actions had nothing to do with the problems, yet the clear evidence suggests that it is usually their actions that cause the resulting problems. It is also incumbent on suppliers and installers to ensure that the people they engage to do such works are competent and qualified to undertake the work.

The general requirements for a top chord bracing system is to transfer forces generated into the top chord restraints back to the supporting structure, i.e. the top plates. The forces are generated by resisting buckling of the top chord members and by wind loading perpendicular to the span of the trusses. In the case, depicted in these photos, the steel brace was cut out near the apex point and no measures were implemented to compensate for this lack of top chord bracing at this critical point in the roof structure. The MBA will be contacting installers and suppliers to warn them of the consequences of altering structural members, especially when installing air-conditioning

Left image : Top cord bracing cut to install evaporative cooling unit through the roof. Right image: Top cord buckling showing dislodgement of gang-nail connection.

Another MAJOR VICTORY for the Master Builders Association. Debate on DV306 delayed until May. The Master Builders Association initiated an extensive lobbying effort of the ACT Legislative Assembly members following the tabling of DV306 in the Assembly. As most of you would have been aware, the Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development presented government’s approved recommendation for the final Territory Plan Variation, which was due to come into effect on the 27th May. This would mean that all plans lodged for a Development Approval after that date would have to comply with the approved Territory Plan Variation. Extensive lobbying by the Master Builders Association has now resulted in an agreement to delay the debate on DV306. What this will mean is that, as an industry, we will now have

the opportunity to, once again, state our long-held position that DV306 will not deliver the desired outcomes expected of it. We have already provided numerous examples of problematic clauses and inclusions within DV306 that should be deleted as they are problematic and will have detrimental and negative flow-on effects for the industry as a whole. Our Professional Sector Council members, in partnership with other key industry players, such as the Institute of Architects, are currently in the process of consolidating a response outlining some of our key concerns. We expect to be in a position to provide this to key members of the Assembly within the next week or so.

Prevention of falls from windows. Jerry Howard, Deputy Executive Director & Matthew Kalogris, Performance windows

The National Construction Code (NCC) has always contained measures to prevent falls from heights. Until relatively recently, there were no specific requirements for windows; designers and certifiers would try to adapt the requirements for balustrades and apply them to windows. Finally, in 2009 specific requirements for windows were introduced. They were incorporated with, but distinct from the balustrade requirements. The wording has changed slightly over the years, but the essential details of the requirements have remained the same since BCA2009.

DEEMED TO SATISFY PROVISIONS D2.24 Protection of openable windows (a) A window opening must be provided with protection, if the floor below the window is 2m or more above the surface beneath in-

In response to a spate of children falling from windows the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) undertook to introduce new measures in the National Construction Code through BCA2013 to specifically prevent small children from falling from windows and balconies. These requirements will apply to plans lodged for approval after 1 May 2013. The following is an extract from NCC2013 VOL.1. The requirements for VOL.2 (Class 1 and 10 buildings) are the same.

screen release mechanism is required by (b)(ii)(C); and

(ii)for openable windows 4 m or more above the surface beneath if the window is not covered by(a).

(d) A barrier covered by (c) must not

(i) a bedroom in a Class 2 or 3 building or Class 4 part of a building; or

(i) permit a 125mm sphere to pass through it; and

(ii) a Class 9b early childhood centre.

(ii) have any horizontal or near horizontal elements between 150mm and 760mm above the floor that facilitate climbing.

(b) Where the lowest level of the window opening is less than 1.7m above the floor, a window opening covered by: (a) must comply with the following:

(i) The openable portion of the window must be protected with-

(A) a device to restrict the window opening; or

(B) a screen with secure fittings.

(ii) A device or screen required by (i) must-

(A) not permit a 125mm sphere to pass through the window opening;

(B) resist an outward horizontal action of 250 N against the-

(aa) window restrained by a device; or

(bb) screen protecting the opening; and

(C) have a child resistant release mechanism if the screen or device is removed, unlocked or overridden.

(c) A barrier with a height not less than 865 mm above the floor is required to an openable window

(i) in addition to window protection, when a child resistant

(For Vol.2 requirements see: P2.5.2 and The new requirements, which will come into effect on 1 May 2013, apply only to windows in bedrooms in Class 1, 2, 3 buildings, Class 4 part of a building or Class 9b early childhood centres. They are intended to apply to two storey and above buildings and parts of single storey buildings on steeply sloping blocks. All other windows where the fall height is 4 m or greater will follow the existing requirements (as per D2.24 (c)(ii) and (d) above). The important factors are the size and height above the floor of the opening and the existence of footholds that can be used for climbing. For Windows in Bedrooms and early childhood centres with openings within 1700mm above the floor: • If the opening is more than 865mm above the floor and there are no climbable elements, then removable screens or restrictors that can be overidden by an adult may be used. • If the opening is less than 865mm above the floor or there are climbable elements, then permanent screens or restrictors are required.

It can be seen that there is an advantage in having the glazing extend to the floor, without any climbable elements. This allows for screens or restrictors that can be overridden if required. Similarly, for all other windows where the fall height is 4m or greater: • If the opening is more than 865mm above the floor and there are no climbable elements, no screens or restrictors are required. • If the opening is less than 865mm above the floor or there are climbable elements, then permanent screens or restrictors are required. Again, there is an advantage in having the glazing extend to the floor. There are a number of hardware solutions available, such as short chain winders and barrier screens which will allow windows to comply with the new requirements. We have been advised sliding window vent locks which key lock the sash at 125mm, but allow the sash to open fully when unlocked will meet the requirements of the NCC. However, care must be taken to ensure that the water performance of the sill is not compromised by the hardware fixings. Unfortunately, it is envisaged that there will be a few problems from DIY after-market installations. An Australian Windows Association technical sub-committee is developing a method of testing screens and hardware to meet the NCC requirements. We will shortly be publishing this an Industry Code of Practice which can be used by members to demonstrate compliance with the NCC.

Prevention of Falls from Windows Case1

Protection of new and incomplete masonry from collapse.

For Windows in Bedrooms Where the fall height is 2m or greater

Jerry Howard, Deputy Executive Director

No restrictions apply.

Case 2

ey Message Key Message

ey Message

Prevention of Falls from Windows with a non-removable robust screen.

Australian Window Association For Windows in Ground Floor, 71 Ridge Street Gordon NSW 2072 Bedrooms Ph. 02 9498 2768 F. 02 9498 3816



The recent tragedy resulting in the deaths of three people as a result of a masonry wall collapse in Swanston Street, Melbourne, should be a reminder to all of us in the construction industry how dangerous masonry walls can be if not properly braced or supported. Whilst I do not want to comment on the reasons and causes of the Swanston Street tragedy, I do, in my travels, see lots of examples of improperly braced masonry walls and, in some instances, masonry walls with no bracing at all.

Case 3

3 Key Message | Fall Prevention

Where the fall height is 2m or greater

We are now entering a season whereby we can have wind gusts that can easily affect the stability of newly laid masonry walls and, indeed, brick veneer walls that have not been secured to the framing. I have on many occasions stated that, when a timber frame wall blows over and falls on somebody, there is a good chance that that person will survive with some loss of skin and bark. However, when masonry walls fall over, even relatively low walls such as garden and courtyard walls, they can potentially have devastating consequences, given the mass of the masonry involved. Provision of temporary bracing: It is not unusual for high winds to cause the collapse of incomplete masonry, when the flexural strength from mortar bond is not fully developed or when lateral support from returns and floor or roof structures are not yet provided. Site control should recognise this hazard and should make provision for temporary bracing to be installed capable of stabilising the construction where necessary. The design documentation should specify measures and design details for temporary bracing.

robust screen. Case 4

Generally, new masonry walls lacking support from cross walls or returns, can be built to a height not exceeding 10 times the thickness of the wall without a need for temporary support. Lesser heights should apply in regions subject to extremely high winds, or when lightweight masonry is used. Where the wall is to be supported by temporary braces, the distance between the points of support should not exceed 2m and the support must be provided to both faces of the wall. The raking braces must be properly secured at the base to resist the transfer of wind force action on the wall.

with a non-removable robust screen.

4 Key Message | Fall Prevention

Australian Window Association Ground Floor, 71 Ridge Street Gordon NSW 2072 Ph. 02 9498 2768 F. 02 9498 3816


If you follow the above rules you will ensure a safer workplace and the costs associated with rebuilding the collapsed masonry walls.

Portable Power generators. Article provided by John Graham

Currently it appears that Worksafe ACT requires that operators should be appropriately trained in the use of the electrical equipment and be familiar with the relevant Australian Standard for the location and type of work performed. This may equate to a requirement that portable generator operators, supervisors and compliance regulators be trained and competent in the compliance and regulation of such standards as: • • • • • •

AS/NZS 2906 “Fuel containers – Portable – Plastics and Metal” AS/NZS 3760 “Test & Tag” AS/NZS 3105 “Portable Power Boards (EPOD)” AS 2790 “Electricity generating sets—Transportable” AS/NZS 3012 “Electrical installations - Construction and demolition sites” AS 3190 “Approval and test specification - Residual current devices (current-operated earth-leakage devices)”

This maze is compounded by the varying types and quality of portable generators and accessories currently available on the market from both main stream manufacturers and backyard importers.

Note: In the past there has been much confusion and misinformation in regard to generator sizing. This issue was to some extent brought about by a few brands of standard brushless “Unity” generators been marketed as 0.8 power factor.

Currently 240V single phase AC Generators can be generally classified as the following types:

In addition the real power “Watts” specification was not shown on the generators compliance plate, only the kVA rating. This gave the impression that the generator was larger in capacity than it actually was.

STANDARD BRUSHLESS GENERATOR Brushless generators are among the most common in the industry because of their inexpensive construction, but have the least reliable voltage control. Brushless generators can't react to a changing load, either producing low power (brownout) or high power. Fluctuations of this nature can cause equipment damage and makes them unsuitable for powering electronic tools or appliances. AVR (AUTOMATIC VOLTAGE REGULATOR) GENERATOR The Automatic Voltage Regulator or AVR is designed to consistently control voltage. The AVR keeps the output voltage more constant, regardless of the load. CYCLOCONVERTER GENERATOR CycloConverter technology supplies cleaner power with less weight. The CycloConverter offers the benefits of AVR-type generator at a lower size and weight. INVERTER GENERATOR Inverter generators produce the cleanest power of all. These units are ideal for sensitive electronics, such as computers. Inverter generators offer a number of other benefits, including less noise, lower weight, capable of starting higher electric motor loads and a greater fuel efficiency as compared to older technology models.

Examples of possible generator work site compliance requirements: THE CORRECT GENERATOR SIZING AND POWER RATING FOR ITS APPLICATION A generators output can be rated in either Real Power” Watts” (W - kW) or Apparent Power “Volt Amperes” (VA - kVA). Normally a single phase generator will have a power factor of 1 “Unity”, [1kVA = 1000 Watts = 1kW] Normally for 3-phase generators the power factor 0.8, [1kVA = 800 Watts = 0.8kW] When sizing a generator, its Watts rating must be at least equal to, but preferably be greater than the total Watts consumption of all its applications.

Any current examples of this practice should be referred to the ACCC for investigation. EARTHING OR AN EARTH STAKE ON PORTABLE GENERATORS Australian Standard AS/NZ 3012 states in clause that “Earthing of generator frames is not required, nor recommended. No earth electrode is required” RESIDUAL CURRENT DEVICES (RCD) ON GENERATORS RCD’s used on portable generators, either fitted or connected via a RCD protected portable power board (EPOD) are required to be Australian Standard AS/NZ 3012 generator compliant. Normal mains connected type RCD’s or normal RCD protected portable power boards (generator noncompliant) must not be used in connection with isolated winding generators as the RCD will not function. Note: Any generator modified and fitted with a RCD safety device should have written certification that the modifications have been: i. ii. iii.

Carried out by a qualified, authorised agent. Authorised and approved by the generator manufacturer Are Australian Standards generator compliant

LABELLING The generator must provide information regarding its manufacturer, C-Tick compliance, specifications, operation and Australian Standards compliance. This information should be on a decal or compliance plate displayed prominently on the generator. DUTY OF CARE The use of portable generators introduces many additional hazards and risks, including weather conditions, power leads, manual handling risks, noise, fumes and carbon monoxide emissions, flammable liquids and fire risks. Where the use of a portable generator is necessary, the operator needs to ensure that all hazards and risks associated with their use have been mitigated.

Proposal to mandate liveable housing design guidelines another example of policy gone mad. On the 19th February at the Canberra Convention Centre, I sat in dismay at an NCC Information Session listening to an officer of the Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate explaining a proposal to mandate Livable Housing Design Guidelines in the ACT Appendix to the NCC for all detached Class 1 residences. by Jerry Howard

You can no doubt understand my response when the presentation was completed when a call for any questions were put to those in attendance. I cannot believe that policy can be developed in isolation and then presented as a fait accompli. Bearing in mind that the Master Builders supports the concept of Livable Housing Design Guidelines, but only on a voluntary basis, which is also the goal of Livable Housing Australia (LHA). LHA’s goal is simple: “We champion the adoption by 2020 of a silver-rating for all new homes�.

The Master Builders have now succeeded in putting a halt to the mandating of Livable Housing Design Guidelines principally because there was no consultation with industry, no costing or detailed analysis of the work required in a new home to comply with the minimum silver level proposed. Before the Master Builders will support the introduction of any such provisions, we expect that it would be prudent to:


Undertake an analysis of the existing new housing stock and check compliance levels


Provide detailed costings on these proposals


Undertake a detailed analysis of the take-up on existing adaptable housing


Consider the likely impact that DV306 will have with the provision to provide an additional adaptable residential suite


Analyse the potential take-up for buildings of this type constructed in greenfields estates


Review the impact that these proposals are likely to have on existing designs and what modifications would be required to achieve silver-rating compliance


Liaise with the construction industry and the design professionals in developing guidelines and acceptable construction practices


Promote and introduce these guidelines to the industry for a two-year period and then evaluate the take-up on a voluntary basis.

There must be greater liaison between the ACT government agencies on issues such as this. I certainly believe that there appears to be a disconnection when it comes to the development of policy. On the one hand you have the planning agency who, in their wisdom, implement planning rules that deliver very poor outcomes onsite and then, on the other hand, you have an agency who sells land only to discover that the planning rules are counter to achieving this objective. The above is another example of this classic disconnection with policy on the run and no sensible consultation with industry. There are many issues that remain unresolved in our discussions with Government agencies that should be resolved before we embark on another social experiment such as outlined above.

Lunch breaks are a time when workers can take a spell from their job, not feel pressured by union activities.

Government’ new Fair Work changes strengthen unions’ hand, says MBA. The Government has announced further planned changes to the Fair Work Act, strengthening unions’ ability to force compulsory arbitration in long-running industrial disputes and increasing unions’ access to employees in the workplace.

The proposed changes were widely criticised by employer organisations, who said they represented a backward step in workplace relations. Master Builders Australia Chief Executive Officer Wilhelm Harnisch said the changes to the Fair Work Act proposed by Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten will further compound limitations on employers to be able to structure their workplace to suit the business and their employees. They will “do nothing to enhance workplace productivity or an employer’s ability to restructure their business in response to changing economic conditions, he said. According to The Australian, the changes mean “unions will be given greater ability to recruit nonunion members in workplaces and force long-running intractable disputes with employers into arbitration.” Mr Shorten said the right of entry provisions will be amended to clarify that where an employer and union cannot agree on the location of a meeting between the union and employees the union is entitled to represent, the meeting should be held in a location used by the employees during meal times or other breaks.” Mr Harnisch said, “this is an unacceptable prospect for employers and for 82 per cent of Australian workers who are not members of a trade union.

“Lunchrooms are places where employees can take a spell from their job and enjoy their meal time in peace. Union meetings and activities should not be forced upon nonunion workers enjoying their meal breaks. “The Bill is a clear case of pandering to the unions.” Mr Harnisch said “the Bill also includes provisions which require employers to pay for permit holders’ travel and accommodation to remote sites. This is an additional and unwarranted cost forced on employers, who are already facing difficult trading conditions in the building and construction industry. “However, there is a welcome addition to allow the Fair Work Commission to deal with disputes regarding the frequency of union visits to worksites for discussion purposes. “The Government’s proposed reforms are not balanced, they work against the viability of business and strengthen the role of unions. The Government should be supporting business, as they are the ones who invest and create jobs,” Mr Harnisch said.

“The union needs to understand an apprenticeship is a period of training, it is all about learning a trade that will lead to a very rewarding career." - Wilhelm Harnisch, Master Builders Australia

Union’s Apprentice Wage proposal threatens jobs of 12,000 young Australians. An economic study of an application by unions to dramatically increase first and second year apprentice wages reveals the increase would threaten between 5,850 and 12,000 construction apprenticeship positions. In a review of the Building and Construction On-Site Modern Award the CFMEU and the ACTU have applied to increase first year apprentice training base wage by 33 per cent and second year base wage by 18.3 per cent. The full bench of the Fair Work Commission is due to begin hearings into the review of wages and conditions for apprentices, trainees and juniors at the start of March. A Centre for International Economics study commissioned by Master Builders Australia and the Housing Industry Association revealed the union’s application would make it more attractive to employ fully qualified tradespeople and reduce demand for apprentices. Wilhelm Harnisch, Chief Executive of Master Builders Australia said the union’s proposal is a significant threat to the apprenticeship system and jobs for young Australians. “It comes at a time when the Government is putting in place measures to create jobs for young Australians, such as the Kickstart apprenticeship bonus for the building and construction industry and National Jobs and Skills Expos announced on Friday by the Hon Kate Ellis MP and Senator Kim Carr. “As the largest trainer of apprentices, the building and construction industry wants to continue its proud tradition of creating jobs for young Australians.

“The union’s claim will add an additional $390 million in costs to the industry, mostly born by small businesses that employ up to 70 per cent of all construction apprentices. At a time when the industry is really doing it tough, it puts a real strain on the viability of the apprenticeship system. “If the base wage for first and second year apprentices is dramatically increased, employers must choose between employing a young apprentice or a more productive fully qualified tradesperson. If you were a business owner, which one would you chose? “Increasing the cost of training will reduce demand for apprentices. If introduced, the unions proposal will do irreversible damage to the industry’s future skills pool. It will undo all the good work of the Government’s Kickstart scheme which attracted tens of thousands of apprentices into the industry. “The union needs to understand an apprenticeship is a period of training, it is all about learning a trade that will lead to a very rewarding career. Apprentices get paid while they learn. In comparison, a university student can pay tens of thousands of dollars to obtain their qualification,” Mr Harnisch said.

Buyers win big stamp duty reduduction. The ACT Supreme Court has ruled that the ACT Government can only levy stamp duty on the building component of a house and land package, in certain circumstances.

The Court’s decision, which could have wide-ranging implications for builders and clients, upheld an earlier decision of the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal which the ACT Government had appealed against and reduced a couple’s stamp duty bill from $17,000 to $20. According to the buyer’s lawyer Allan Nelson of Nelson & Co Solicitors, the couple Roozbeh Araghi and Luke Dorsett, who bought a block of land at Crace for $81,000 were told that as first home buyers that they would only need to pay a stamp duty of $20. Mr Nelson said after being told they would be liable to stamp duty of $20, "they got one great shock when later in the year it was assessed at almost $17,000."

The issue arose when the Government calculated the stamp duty on the total value of the house and land package, worth nearly $435,000, rather than on the $81,000 land component. "They were signing a building contract straight after the time they signed the land contract and they were interdependant," Mr Nelson said. "They were different parties of course and that was the crux of the whole matter." In her judgment Justice Hilary Penfold said “the dutiable transaction is the contract for the transfer by the Land Development Agency of a specified Crown lease to the buyer.” She said “there is no basis” on which to take account of “the price of the contract for the construction of the building” in levying stamp duty. The court said there were two contracts involved in the transaction “One contract was for the purchase of a block of land (strictly, for the purchase of a Crown lease), and the other was with a developer for the building of a house on the land concerned.” The ACT Government may be liable to pay back hundreds of thousands of dollars to home and land buyers after the ruling. These who may be eligible for stamp duty refunds are buyers who bought house and land packages in Canberra's north under the government’s affordable housing schemes before 2011.

The couple who purchased their house and land package in 2010 took their case to the tribunal in 2011 arguing they had been assured by Treasury officials they would be entitled to pay the concessional rate of stamp duty, which was $20. However, they were billed $16,800. The case was decided on a point of contractual law, and not the verbal assurances, both in the tribunal and the subsequent Supreme Court appeal. Lawyer Allan Nelson said "If anyone else is in the same boat, then they would be entitled to a refund, I would imagine."

Two new standards in Australian Waterproofing to be referenced in NCC 2013. The National Construction Code Volumes 1 & 2 from 1 May 2013 will refeference two new Australian Standards which specifically deal with waterproofing issues associated with above ground waterproofing. These new Australian Standards are AS4654.1 Waterproofing Membranes for External Above-Ground Use and AS4654.2 Waterproofing Membranes for External Above-Ground Use Design and Installation. These Standards were prepared by Standards Australia and will supersede AS4654.2 2009. These Standards have been prepared in response to numerous requests from industry representatives in the field of external waterproofing, especially in the areas of roofs, decks and balconies. Waterproofing has been a dominant issue in a ddressing the quality of building work in the ACT especially waterproofing associated with external balconies on Class 2 buildings.

The objective of these Standards is to provide a consistent and reliable approach to the design and installation of external waterproofing membrane systems. Designers, builders and applicators should familiarise themselves with the new Standards and ensure that from 01 May 2013 all the works that they undertake, approve or design, should comply with these Standards. Part Two of the Standard has some excellent guidance in the application and detailing of external waterproofing membranes. The MBA will be delivering a training session on these two Standards on Thursday 02 May and also the changes to AS3740 Waterproofing of Wet Areas in Residential Buildings. A registration form for this training session has already been sent to members.

A recent cartoon from the On-Site Insight newsletter depicting the problems with sub-standard waterproofing.

COMING EVENTS FOR 2013 The CCF Earth Awards

Date: Friday 10 May I

Where: National Arboretum, Canberra

This year's CCF Earth Awards will be held at the newly opened National Arboretum. The CCF Earth Awards have the specific aim of recognising outstanding work in construction and environmental excellence which reflects development and use of the best technologies and practices by Australian civil contractors. SEMINAR Know your Award

Date: Thursday 2 May I

SEMINAR Right of Entry

Date: Thursday 30 May I

Where: MBA Skills Centre

The most important award for the building and construction industry is the Building and Construction General On-Site Award 2010, which broadly covers on-site civil, commercial and residential construction work. With one of the heaviest regulatory burdens of any modern award, it is crucial that members ‘know their award’. This seminar will explain the key components of the award and ways of simplifying employer obligations. Where: MBA Skills Centre

Union officials have very broad rights to enter employers’ premises under workplace relations and safety laws. This seminar will consider the limits of these simple but often misunderstood laws, offering strategies on how employers can manage right of entry to minimise liability and impacts on productivity.


Date: First course begins 6 June. There are a number of available dates. (Contact Cecilee Miller at to book your place)


Date: 23 April, 10 May, 23 May, 6 June, 20 June (Contact Cecilee Miller at to book your place) The aim of this course is to provide participants with information, tuition and activities that will enable them to identify, assess and safely work above 1.5 metres from floor level with fail protection where required.

The program consists of three 4 hour modules and two on site coaching seesions. The Safety Leadership Program looks at the way human factors affect the development and maintenance of safety culture. Participants develop awareness and learn skills, to better influence safety culture on site.


16 APR


20 AUG


30 APR

30 JUL

19 NOV


20 MAR


12 JUN

24 JUL


30 APR



12 NOV


10 APR

12 JUN

14 AUG

11 DEC

15 OCT



$80 $60 $40 $20 $0













The above graph and table below summarise private sector building activity for the various building sectors in the ACT over the past 12 months. The values for each month are depicted in millions of dollars. // To Insert New Data Goto Object/Graph/Data

• Copy and Paste Pivot Table Data into Data Additions and Alterations (Residential) Commercial Building Work Garages, Pools, Decks and Similar Structures Multi Unit New Housing

Apr-12 May-12 Jun-12 5.5 5.8 5.2 14.3 39 80.2 1.7 9.0 10.2 0.13 34.5 33.1 40 53 49

Jul-12 6.3 83 9.5 5.5 67

Aug-12 Sep-12 Oct-12 Nov-12 Dec-12 Jan-13 Feb-13 Mar-13 5.3 8.2 5.8 7.02 5.00 6.2 6.4 5.02 17.1 27.5 51.27 34.0 38.2 19.2 68.6 24.3 15.0 13.8 15.8 18.3 13.8 11.6 11.4 13 0.5 1.8 14.6 0 11.2 16.4 10.2 18 17.2 40 56 72.3 55.5 55.5 43.2 51.2

On-Site Insight 2-2013  

Newsletter of the Master Builders Association of the ACT

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