PALASZCZUK URGED TO KEEP CONSTRUCTION REFORMS, REVAMP APPRENTICESHIPS

Written on the 17 February 2015 by Antony Scholefield

PALASZCZUK URGED TO KEEP CONSTRUCTION REFORMS, REVAMP APPRENTICESHIPS

THE Construction Policy Director at Master Builders Queensland has urged premier Anna Palaszczuk to keep the previous government's reforms, and to revamp the apprenticeship system.

John Crittall says Master Builders works with all sides of politics but "strongly supported" many reforms introduced under the previous LNP government.

"We will continue to lobby for the reforms we want and support, but the ALP policy has already stated that they want to repeal a number of issues and changes we had introduced," he says.

"Master Builders pride themselves on having a good relationship with any government, but certainly the union agenda has been to wind back many of the reforms that have come in through the LNP.

"We have some level of anxiety about which of those laws will be repealed, and which will survive."

Master Builders also wants the government to reduce stamp duty, restore insurance for third parties, contain costs, end intimidation of workers, and hold professionals more accountable for their work.

Crittall says the organisation supports laws that give the police more authority to provide "protection from protestors."

"We had a lot of trouble on a children's hospital dispute which basically stopped construction for nine weeks as a result of a community picket that was being orchestrated by other parties," he says.

"We thought the police didn't have enough powers to move the protestors on to allow other workers to come to work.

"They'll be no appetite from a Labor government in Queensland to introduce laws similar to the ones we were asking for."

Executive Director Grant Galvin says Master Builders welcomes the new government but wants to reinforce industry imperatives.

"It is imperative the new government recognise the vital role the building and construction industry has in achieving their key election priority of delivering more jobs," he says.

"While there have been improvements in the last 12 months, the commercial sector is still floundering."

In the 12 months to December 2014, building approvals rose by 25 in far north Queensland, 22 per cent on the Gold Coast, 20 per cent in Brisbane, and 18 per cent on the Sunshine Coast.

However, approvals halved in central Queensland and Mackay, a situation that Master Builders describes as "patchy."

Galvin says a new apprenticeship system would strengthen the industry and prevent a skills shortage.

"Labor's plans for job creation go hand-in-hand with our call to review and revamp our apprenticeship system - a step we see as being essential to achieving a robust building industry training system," he says.

"One of the biggest dangers facing the building industry as we emerge from the GFC, and demand and activity once again start to rise, is a skills shortage, and we must take steps to address this issue now.

"The current system, which has been around for many years, is in desperate need of an overhaul that makes taking advantage of funding and assistance much easier."

Crittall says the apprentice intake was 30 per cent below average during the four years after the global financial crisis.

"There's an entire cohort of workers that haven't been able to do their apprenticeship as a result of the downturn," he says.

"There's a conversation now about if we get very busy, does that mean you're going to have skill shortages going into the future?

"That most likely would be the case."

Master Builders supports a "mentoring approach" to attract and retain apprentices, providing third party access when necessary to resolve conflict.

"The two big issues for us is that apprentices are not completing their time and they're not happy with either industry conditions or particular employment aspects with their boss," says Crittall.

"We think part of the solution is about better recruitment and better expectations from people about what the industry offers."


Author: Antony Scholefield

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