In a disappointing move for the productivity of Victorian construction sites, the State Government has abolished the Construction Code Compliance Unit (CCCU) and the Construction Code of Practice (Victorian Code).
“We are likely to see cost blowouts and more delays on projects including transport infrastructure and schools,” Master Builders Chief Executive, Radley de Silva, said to the Herald Sun.
“Without an adequate watchdog for our industry, we could very well see a return to old school militant behaviour on our building sites.”
The State Government has advised that contractors bidding for taxpayer-funded work and applying for pre-qualification status on government construction registers will still be required to meet safety and industrial relations management criteria.
However, construction companies will no longer be required to submit Victorian Code compliant Workplace Relations Management Plans and Health and Safety Management Plans.
Likewise, while the government advises that the Victorian Code’s drug and alcohol testing and site security measures no longer apply, occupational health and safety policies and procedures remain.
It remains unclear what the changes mean for government-funded construction projects currently underway and covered by the Victorian Code. Master Builders is seeking clarification from the State Government on this.
“Drug and alcohol testing is a vital issue for an industry that includes at-risk work and where workers under the influence of drugs or alcohol can operate heavy machinery, endangering themselves and others around them,” said Mr de Silva.
“The decision to abandon drug and alcohol testing and other provisions of the code is a retrograde step not only for the productivity of our sites, but also for the safety of our sites.”
The government has also said that activities like unlawful industrial action or other Fair Work Act breaches will continue to be investigated by Fair Work Building and Construction. Victoria Police remains the appropriate agency to refer activities that may breach criminal law, such as trespass.
“Scrapping a construction code that’s ensuring taxpayers get value for money from building projects is most disappointing,” said Mr de Silva.
“Yielding to the demands of the CFMEU to abolish the code will reduce the productivity of our sites.
“We want to see real, long-lasting reforms that will help clean up the industry and deal with disturbing matters that have been regularly raised at the Heydon Royal Commission.
“Our industry needs a tough cop on the beat and a strong set of rules to make sure our apartments, roads and hospitals are delivered on time and on budget.”
The Victorian Code has previously been endorsed by the nation’s Productivity Commission, which also recommended other states roll out similar schemes.
The Department of Treasury and Finance (DTF) will continue to manage the Construction Supplier Register and ministerial directions for public construction tendering and contracting.
Queries on these matters should be directed to DTF on 1800 842 222.