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  • 31 Mar 2020 1:15 PM | Anonymous
    Yesterday the Australian Federal Government delivered a historic wage subsidy to the value of $130 billion, impacting around 6 million workers. The payment will ensure eligible employers (including not-for-profits) and employees stay connected while some businesses move into hibernation.

      • This subsidy will see workers receive a flat payment of $1,500 per fortnight through their employer, before tax.
      • The payment will be paid to employers, for up to six months, for each eligible employee that was on their books on 1 March 2020 and is retained or continues to be engaged by that employer.
      • Where a business has stood down employees since 1 March, the payment will help them maintain connection with their employees.
      • Eligible employers will be those with annual turnover of less than $1 billion who self-assess that have a reduction in revenue of 30% or more, since 1 March 2020 over a minimum one-month period.
      • Eligible employers include businesses structured through companies, partnerships, trusts and sole traders. Not for profit entities, including charities, will also be eligible.
      • The program will commence today, 30 March 2020, with the first payments to be received by eligible businesses in the first week of May as monthly arrears from the ATO.
      • To register your interest visit the ATO website here: https://www.ato.gov.au/general/gen/JobKeeper-payment/

    To read more about yesterday’s announcement please click here: https://www.pm.gov.au/media/130-billion-jobkeeper-payment-keep-australians-job

    Comprehensive fact sheets from Treasury can be found here: https://treasury.gov.au/coronavirus/jobkeeper


  • 30 Mar 2020 4:11 PM | Anonymous

    A third round of stimulus is expected soon in the hopes of keeping the economy afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic, with more details on Morrison’s reference to “hibernation” for small business included.  

    Recent updates from the COVID-19 pandemic from the weekend include the limitation of gatherings to just two persons, and the government’s announcement of further support for the aviation sector.  

    The Morrison government on Saturday announced almost $300 million in additional funding for the aviation sector… Meanwhile, the government has a plan of “hibernation” for other businesses in order to protect them from the economic hit caused by COVID-19.

    He indicated that this will be part of an upcoming third stimulus package (expected in the next few days).

    There have been hints that this new edition of stimulus will include wage subsidies for small businesses.

    The expectation around wavering rent for small businesses has already been realised. Scott Morrison confirmed a six-month pause to evictions for renters and small businesses over the weekend. This of course is only applicable to renters facing financial difficulty caused by the pandemic.

    In his address, the Prime Minister said “My message to tenants, particularly commercial tenants, and commercial landlords, is a very straightforward one – we need you to sit down, talk to each other and work this out about looking at the businesses which have been closed, businesses that may have had a significant reduction in their revenues.”

    Read more: Stimulus package 2.0: What does the $66 billion package mean?

    The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell has welcomed the “hibernation” approach.

    She said that “the only way for small businesses to survive the coming months is if they can effectively hit pause for now.”

    “For businesses to bounce back when this health crisis is over, they need a holiday from all costs that they incur during this extremely difficult period.”

    “Small businesses – including those that are forced to shut their doors as well as those who suffer a significant loss of income – should be able to go into business hibernation.”

    Although the details around this COVID-19 hibernation tactic are still being considered by government, it will likely involve landlords and essential services putting their fees on hold.

    Ms Carnell said, “Landlords, utility and service providers, telecommunications and all levels of government will need to put their fees and charges on hold or face losing that customer altogether if there is a tidal wave of insolvencies.

    “Part of this needs to be a wage subsidy for staff that remain attached to the business.

    “Those staff would need to be paid at least 60% of their wage up to a maximum monthly amount. This of course would need a minimum safety net built in.”

    Further updates are expected to come sometime this week.

    Article originally posted in Dynamic Business

  • 30 Mar 2020 1:07 PM | Anonymous

    An edge protection company has been fined $50,000 by a Brisbane Magistrates Court for failing to comply with its primary safety duty under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 for exposing workers to risk of serious injury or death from roof falls.

    Its director was also fined $5,000 for failing to comply with his duty as an officer of the company.

    The company provides and installs edge protection on roofs so third parties can safely work at height.

    Between 3 and 7 March 2018, the company was installing edge protection to a house in Highgate Hill, where the roof was being replaced.

    On 7 March, a roofing contractor lent against one of the horizontal edge protection rails which failed, and he fell 2.6m to the concrete below. The man suffered a significant fracture to his left knee, as well as lacerations to his left leg and hand.

    A Workplace Health and Safety Queensland investigation found the rail hadn’t been properly secured by the scaffold coupling which wasn’t tightened sufficiently.

    A technical report obtained by WHSQ also suggested the coupling and horizontal railing configuration could’ve been installed with the railing abutting behind the vertical scaffold support post to provide back up in case the coupling accidentally released.

    The investigation revealed the company work method statement for installing edge protection required one designated worker to check all couplings to ensure they were secure.

    However, that wasn’t the case on this occasion as the director (the person designated to check) had left for around 30 minutes to quote on another job and the worker he assigned the task to didn’t do it either.

    In sentencing, Magistrate Stephen Courtney said general deterrence was a factor in determining the penalty, as well as denouncing the defendants’ conduct. His Honour accepted the director was remorseful and had been affected by the incident.

    However, Magistrate Courtney noted the purpose of the WHS legislative scheme was to ensure the community was protected with workers being able to return home safely.

    The court was told the worker suffered significant injuries, but thankfully had recovered and returned to his roofing job.

    His Honour observed the company continued to operate, though not particularly profitable, and that any penalty he imposed would be a significant burden.

    He took into consideration the defendants’ co-operation with the investigation, that neither had any prior WHS contraventions, an early guilty plea and the post incident measures implemented that would, if followed, ensure a similar incident would not occur.

    The company was fined $50,000 with no conviction recorded. The director received a $5,000 fine with no conviction recorded. Court costs of $1,000 were shared by the two defendants.

    Original article from the AIHS website.

  • 30 Mar 2020 1:01 PM | Anonymous

    Prime Minister, Scott Morrison announced a plan to “hibernate Australian business” during the coronavirus crisis. He also said every Australian returning home from overseas will now be quarantined to hotels or other facilities in a bid to slow the spread of the virus.


    Read the Full Media Release
  • 30 Mar 2020 12:53 PM | Anonymous

    Joint Media Statement - Australian Workers’ Union & Master Builders Association 27/3/02

    AWU and Master Builders Australia are jointly calling on governments to ensure the building and construction industry continues to operate, because without it the economic knock-on effects would be devastating on a scale that would dwarf what we have seen to date.

    The shutdown of the construction industry would jeopardise not just those employed directly, but the whole livelihoods of millions of Australians employed in precarious sectors like manufacturing. It would devastate nationally important industries in the building supply chain, like the $30 billion steel industry.

    Forcing the industry’s closure would also blunt the impact of federal, state and territory government stimulus packages as infrastructure projects would immediately grind to a halt. Civil construction, in particular, must continue to build the nation and can do so safely given the nature of its sites.

    Indeed, the catastrophic threat of a construction shutdown means the whole construction industry has a civic duty to impress upon authorities it can operate while ensuring compliance with social distancing and hygiene requirements.

    That means everyone in the industry has to step up and be accountable. Construction companies and project managers must ensure that protocols at their site are enforced. Construction workers owe it to each other and their families to be responsible and do the right thing. This is only the only way the industry can continue working while reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

    In times of crisis people look to unions, industry, and government to work together. We have to show we can not only slow the spread of COIVID-19 but ensure there's an economy left when the crisis is over.


  • 30 Mar 2020 12:43 PM | Anonymous

    The MBA and the CFMEU National Construction Division are joining forces to ensure the construction industry remains a backbone of the Australian economy and able to sustain the millions of people dependent upon it throughout the coronavirus crisis.

    The principle union and employer group in the industry are working cooperatively to keep people safe at work while calling on governments and the banks to support the industry and all its people through the uncertainty of the months ahead.

    The construction industry is a lynchpin of the Australian economy. It accounts for around 10 per cent of our GDP and employs 1.2 million people which is 9.1 per cent of the entire Australian workforce. The industry provides more full-time jobs than any other sector of the economy and is made up of 395,000 businesses – 388,800 of which are SMEs.

    If coronavirus forces the shutdown of the industry it will have a devastating impact on the economy generally and upon the lives of construction workers and business operators and all their families.

    The health and wellbeing of everyone in the building and construction industry is our priority. This also means ensuring that the building and construction industry is kept as strong as possible through these difficult times. The industry has capacity through work health and safety mechanisms to enact social distancing policies in workplaces along with heightened safety measures to protect workers and reduce the risk of infection.

    Social isolation and hygiene measures as discussed with health authorities are already in place on many sites and must be immediately put in place on all sites.

    The strong health and safety culture in the construction workforce means our industry can maintain operations.

    Industry participants must immediately adopt strategies for the appropriate management and containment of any confirmed virus diagnosis while enabling construction activity to continue to keep people in jobs and businesses afloat, where it is safe and appropriate to do so.

    A comprehensive package of stimulus measures must be delivered to underpin building activity, the industry’s massive contribution to the economy and protect the livelihoods of construction workers, builders and tradies around the country. Measures that are accessible by the most number of people will provide certainty and time limits can ensure measures are targeted to meet the immediate challenge.

    If worksites are shut down and workers forced off the job due to the virus, there must be an appropriate and liveable safety net in place.

    The impact of managing the virus may result in unexpected delays in construction exposing many builders to harsh liquidated damages provisions. These liquidated damages provisions can be a massive liability that could force businesses to the wall creating further unnecessary difficulties for the industry as a whole.

    Governments and all clients and developers need put aside self-interest and commit to waiving liquidated damages provisions immediately, to provide certainty to the industry.

    Quick payment for work done is even more critical in these circumstances so everyone in the supply chain, starting with clients, need to pay no later than 30 days. Some organisations are delaying payments for 90 days or more, putting significant financial stress on smaller businesses and contractors. This has to end. State and federal governments should also now direct that all principle contractors working on government jobs must pay their subcontractors in less than 30 days.

    The banks have a critical role in keeping businesses viable and ensuring people have the funds they need to survive. All banks now need to provide substantial debt relief for businesses, workers and their families and we welcome the announcements made by the banks to date.

    Banks have the same obligation as the rest of the community to do their part during this time of crisis.

    A shut-down of building and construction would devastate not only the livelihoods of more than one million Australians but would be a disaster for the living standards of the whole community. The government, the industry, unions, clients and the building supply chain must all take proactive steps now to ensure building and construction remains safe and strong to help our whole community through this crisis.

    Dave Noonan 
    Secretary 
    CFMEU National Construction Division 

    Denita Wawn
    Chief Executive Officer
    Master Builders Australia

  • 27 Mar 2020 2:42 PM | Anonymous

    Key points:

    The QLD Government has implemented restricted entry to Queensland from 12:01am on 26 March 2020. Anyone who arrives in Queensland (including by road) from another State from this date must self-quarantine for 14 days, unless they are an “exempt person”.

    Construction is considered a critical service and therefore building and construction workers are exempt. But if you are a NSW resident you are required to to apply for an entry pass.   

    The entry pass online application is an easy process and only takes a minute. Choose 'Specialist skills worker' in the category list. 

    Once complete a 'Queensland Border Pass' document will be emailed to you. This must be displayed on your passenger-side visor, windscreen or dashboard. 

    Queensland police and other emergency officers under the Public Health Act 2005 will be responsible for enforcing the measures. 

    Further resources:
    Queensland border restrictions fact sheet (PDF)


  • 25 Mar 2020 11:18 AM | Anonymous

    What businesses need to do now!

    Over the last fortnight, various Governments around Australia have announced a range of economic stimulus measures designed to support businesses in navigating the financial challenges of COVID-19.

    With all the information out there it is hard to know what businesses should be doing.

    Our Business Advisory & Finance Partner, HLB Mann Judd have put together a simple factsheet to help you understand the key stimulus measures and what actions businesses need to consider and implement now.

    They have gathered a panel of experts including Todd Gammel – Partner Risk & Restructuring and Simon James – Partner Corporate Advisory to talk through the impact and actions of the federal and state government stimulus packages and what you need to be doing.

    Read their factsheet

    View the video

    We are here to support you, and want to assist you in talking through the options available and helping you apply for any of these packages.

    We will continue to update you all as new announcements come out.

    Visit HLB Mann Judd’s COVID-19 Resource Centre for insights to help you and your business during this challenging time.

    If you have any questions, please reach out to your HLB contact or Kim Kelloway, Head of Clients and Markets, who will be able to direct your enquiry to the appropriate person.

    Tony Fittler
    Managing Partner

    Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation

    Important: This is not advice. Clients should not act solely on the basis of the material contained in this Bulletin. Items herein are general comments only and do not constitute advice per se. Also changes in legislation may occur quickly. We therefore recommend that our formal advice be sought before acting in any of the areas. The Bulletin is issued as a helpful guide to clients and for their private information. Therefore it should be regarded as confidential and not be made available to any person without our prior approval.


  • 23 Mar 2020 2:30 PM | Anonymous

    Master Builders Alert, 23 March 2020.
    Coronavirus impact on the construction industry - COVID-19

    No Shutdown of the Building and Construction Industry.

    Please be advised that there was NO shutdown of the building and construction industry announced following the meeting of the National Cabinet on Covid-19 (which comprises the PM, State Premiers and Territory Chief Ministers) on 22 March 2020.

    The Prime Minister last week included building and construction sites as an Essential Service and there has been no change to this status.

    The Prime Minister has announced new social distancing measures, including restrictions on the operations of pubs, clubs, restaurants and cafes that come into effect from Monday 23 March 2020.

    Master Builders Australia will continue to advocate that there should be no shut down (see media release in response to the Federal Government’s second stimulus package announcement which is below).

    Also below is the list of proposed stimulus measures for the industry that Master Builders has provided to the Prime Minister, the Treasurer and key Ministers.

    Prior to the National Cabinet meeting, the Prime Minister and the Premiers of New South Wales and Victoria have made references to shutting down non-essential services. This appears to have been a reaction to some sections of the community ignoring requests by government for people to practice social distancing.

    As from Monday 23 March at midday the following will occur:

    • Cafes (takeaway only)
    • pubs (closed)
    • clubs (closed)
    • licensed venues within hotels (closed)
    • gyms (closed)
    • indoor sporting venues (closed)
    • entertainment venues (closed)
    • cinemas (closed)
    • churches and other places of worship (closed)
    • casinos (closed)
    • restaurants (closed)

    Stimulus Measures Commended
    Building and Construction Must Be Essential Service

    The Federal Government’s second stimulus package contains welcome measures to support the viability of businesses, particularly the viability of small businesses (including sole traders) and nonprofit-organisations to keep people in jobs.

    “We commend the Government for its commitment to doing what it takes to see the country through the health and economic shock of Covid-19 and we restate the importance of building and construction as an essential service,” Denita Wawn, CEO of Master Builders Australia said.

    “Economically it’s one of the main chances of getting stimulus measures to hit the ground hard and fast,” she said.

    “Maintaining building and construction activity around the country is one of the most effective ways of injecting money into the economy at this time of crisis. A shutdown on construction sites will have devastating impact on the economy and the well-being of millions of Australians,” Denita Wawn said.

    “Our industry is already implementing social distancing and risk mitigation policies and we are working collaboratively with trade unions to this end. We will continue to enact measures to safeguard the health of the 1 in 10 Australians employed in our industry and call on governments to keep them in jobs by keeping our industry building,” Denita Wawn said.

    Master Builders Australia Proposed Stimulus Measures

    Housing

    ▪ Support ongoing building of house and land packages through interest free loans for a component of the cost, for example 25 per cent for title ready blocks. Housing developers, big and small, will be hit by a dramatic fall in sales for new homes due to anxiety over a potential recession but this will rebound meaning the risk of default on the loan would be minimal. This is needed to keep builders on the job, employing people and paying their tradies.

    • First Home-Owner Grants of $40,000 for those buying or building new homes to 30 September 2020.
    • Expanding the number of First Home Loan Deposit Scheme loans & ringfencing the majority for new homes only.
    • Expand eligibility of those who can apply for federal funding for social and community housing through NHFIC.
    • Instant tax write-off/extension of negative gearing for property investors to undertake renovations to rental properties (currently can only claim maintenance) that could include upgrades that provide for the home to be more energy efficient which in turn assists in reducing living costs.
    • Financial support to home owners through the use of a registered building practitioner to facilitate home renovations on properties that are pre 6 star requirements to enable them to be more energy efficient (eg change in windows, improved heating/cooling appliances etc) and/or make home more accessible for elderly to maximise ability to stay in their own home for longer.
    • Contribution towards cladding rectification on apartments.
    • Work with State and Territory Governments to fast track planning approvals.

    Commercial and Civil Construction

    • Bring forward spend on approved infrastructure projects (infrastructure is used in its broadest sense to include heath, education, community, social, remote and defence) but also bring forward milestone payments. That is, bring forward expenditure that has already been allocated in the forward estimates.
    • Identify new infrastructure projects (infrastructure is used in its broadest sense to include heath, education, community, social, remote and defence) with an initial focus on refurbishments or maintenance.
    • Recommend officials keep the work packages small and not transfer all risk which will increase the number of SME businesses that can tender.
    • Contribution towards cladding rectification on commercial buildings.
    • Work with State and Territory Governments to fast track planning approvals.
    • Bring forward spend on approved Transport infrastructure projects but also bring forward milestone payments. Recommend officials don’t bundle the contracts or transfer all risk which will increase the number of SME businesses that can tender.
    • Expand eligibility and funding for civil infrastructure development of housing estates (currently undertaken through NHIF in limited form) to incentivise developers to release land supply to make it shovel ready for housing.
    • Work with State and Territory Governments to fast track planning approvals.

    Bushfire Recovery

    • Cover all or part of insurance gap to increase likelihood of more rapid rebuild as owners face costs of building to the new bushfire standard.
    • Financial support to building practitioners to relocate to bushfire areas where there are shortages (eg Gippsland).

    Apprentices and Trainees

    • Extend apprentice wage subsidy to all GTOs.
    • Funding towards a pre-apprenticeship or general entry level re-skilling to enable those who are displaced from other industries to be able to work in building industry and upskilling current building and construction employees.

    Federal Government Announces Further Stimulus Packages

    On 22 March 2020, the Federal Government unveiled a further safety net stimulus package. The Government’s $66 billion package looks to support households, including casuals, sole-traders and others, along with funding for SME’s to stay open and keep paying their employees.

    The relevant measures include:

    • Employees terminated due to the Coronavirus will be eligible for a welfare wage of up to $1,100 per fortnight.
    • Permitting individuals in ‘financial stress’ due to the Coronavirus to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation in 2019-2020 and a further $10,000 in 2020-2021.
    • The Government will support SME’s beyond what is announced in its first package, paying between $20,000 and $100,000 to eligible businesses with aggregate annual turnover below $50 million. The measure will benefit 690,000 businesses, employing about 7.8 million people. By linking the payments to business to staff wage tax withholdings, businesses will be incentivised to hold on to more of their workers.
    • The Government will also establish the Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme to secure working capital. It will guarantee 50% of new loans issued by eligible lenders to SME’s for up to $20 billion out of the $40 billion in loans.
    • It will temporarily increase the threshold at which creditors can issue a statutory demand on a company and the time companies have to respond to statutory demands they receive, in a bid to ease corporate defaults.
    • The package also includes temporary relief for directors from any personal liability for trading while insolvent. The Government maintains that the payments will help employers’ cash flow so they can keep operating and pay rent and bills whilst retaining workers.

    Please refer to the Master Builders Association of NSW website for continued updates on this matter.


  • 23 Mar 2020 2:24 PM | Anonymous

    Letter to the construction and engineering sectors of NSW from The Hon. Dominic Perrottet MP, NSW Treasurer.

    NSW Government committed to vital infrastructure program

    As governments and communities around the world grapple with the health and economic challenges posed by the COVID-19 outbreak, I want to assure the construction and engineering sectors in NSW that our Government is resolved to continue delivery of its infrastructure program.

    The NSW Government will always act on the advice of NSW health officials to ensure the community remains safe while where practical continuing the vital work of building for the future.

    The NSW Government announced a major $2.3 billion Health Boost and Economic Stimulus package to protect the community and help protect jobs in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak over the next six months.

    This package has two key components: $700 million in extra health funding and $1.6 billion in tax cuts to support jobs.

    This package will support our formidable program of work that has been the backbone of our State’s economy for a number of years. And with many sectors now facing unprecedented challenges, our record infrastructure pipeline will continue to sustain tens of thousands of jobs over the coming months.

    It will also continue to have critical downstream economic benefits, driving demand  for materials and equipment from local and national manufacturers, and for goods and services in supporting sectors. The continuation of this vital economic contribution will be a lifeline for many in the months ahead.

    Continuity challenges

    We recognise the sector will face its own operational challenges, and Infrastructure NSW will work with the construction industry and line agencies to closely monitor emerging difficulties, such as supply chain related delays or temporary shutdowns, during this challenging time.

    There are encouraging signs of production resuming in China and other countries hit in the early stages of the pandemic, however some disruptions are to be expected over the coming period.

    Furthermore, we recognise the importance of the sector taking steps to implement social distancing, travel restrictions and hygiene measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The sector has extensive experience in dealing with work, health and safety matters and I have full confidence the necessary measures will be implemented in the course of hazard and risk assessment for projects and sites.

    We will work flexibly with contractors

    In cases where the delivery of projects are affected by these and other matters relating to COVID-19, the NSW Government will ensure all agencies work collaboratively with contractors where issues arise to keep projects on schedule to the greatest extent possible. I urge all operators within the industry to adopt the same approach whether dealing with Government and other organisations.

    Our 10-Point Commitment to the Construction Industry sets out the collaborative approach we expect from all parties. The Government’s Construction Leadership Group will monitor developments over the coming months, and Infrastructure NSW will facilitate industry-wide discussions over this period.

    Together we can keep NSW moving forward

    I encourage all contractors to speak with their client agencies as soon as they become aware of any potential issues so we can keep NSW’s critical infrastructure program moving ahead.

    This is a time for the Government and industry to work together to sustain our state and nation during this difficult time. Your continued contribution will be vital, and I look forward to engaging further with you as we rise to meet the challenges ahead.

    Yours sincerely

    Dominic Perrottet MP
    Treasurer


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