25 Oct Construction sector under threat – Melissa Adler
The property industry is dependent on a number of factors not the least of which is employment in the building sector and a harmonious working environment. That could be under threat with proposed changes to the Award. The HIA’s Melissa Adler outlines the proposals.
Kevin: As we all know, the building industry has a big impact on what happens with property prices and the general mood of people in the property market. If we get an increase in building activity it’s gonna bring on more supply and one of the things that we do have in Australia is a lack of supply. We’ve been talking about how many new buildings we’re gonna need each and every year so therefore the building industry is one that we should keep a very close eye on. Helping us do that, the Housing Industry Association, HIA, have made a statement about some recent changes that could be legislated. Joining me to talk about this, Melissa Adler, who is the Executive Director Industrial Relations at HIA, Melissa, thank you very much for your time.
Melissa: Thank you.
Kevin: What would you say is one of the biggest challenges facing the building industry right now?
Melissa: Well, considering the boom that we’re currently experiencing and as you said in your opening the need for housing supply, getting skilled trades, is one of the biggest challenges faced by the industry. And so we think that the decision of the Commission and some of the changes that are being made or that will be made to the award will help builders employ people, will make it more attractive for people to go into the trades and just smooth out that employment relationship, which can be difficult sometimes.
Kevin: Well, what are some of those changes that are in front, just tell us about them.
Melissa: Absolutely. So one of the biggest changes and that we think is gonna have a significant impact is the removal of what was called a travel allowance when a fully maintained company vehicle is provided. So obviously in the industry, everyone drives everywhere, has a company car most often and prior to this decision an employer was required to pay an additional allowance irrespective of the fact that a company car was provided. So it’s just little things like that, that make it more attractive for employers to have employees and to provide the benefit of something like, for example, a fully maintained company car.
Kevin: I imagine there’s gonna be a bit of pushback from the unions anytime you make a change. So I’m not asking you to make a comment but it’s a very large industry. It’s, what, I think your statement says a $130 billion residential building industry. That’s not insignificant and anything that’s going upset that is going to impact the economy I would have thought.
Melissa: Absolutely and I guess our perspective would be that these changes notwithstanding, what the unions might think or might say, is going to support the contribution that the sector makes to the economy and make sure that it’s maintained into the future.
Kevin: I mean, it’s a big employer, isn’t it?
Kevin: And as we said, it’s also a trigger for economic growth so it’s a fairly important factor. At what stage are these changes? Where are they and when are they likely to be legislated?
Melissa: So our understanding is that these things will come into effect from the first of December. So we’ve got a little bit of work to do in finalising some of those changes but all things being equal the first of December is when we should see these changes coming into effect.
Kevin: And who’s pushing this through? Is this a Fair Work Commission?
Melissa: This is a Fair Work Commission so they’ve just made a decision and, as I said, out of that decision we’ll need to engage in some further consultation and then from one December all these things should come into force.
Kevin: We’ll watch for what happens with interest. Melissa Adler’s been my guest, the Executive Director Industrial Relations at HIA. Melissa, thank you so much for your time.
Melissa: Thank you very much.