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The Civil Contractors Federation SA (CCF SA) said that if the Coalition’s pre-budget announcements today and new procurement reforms by the Labor Government are implemented, the Civil industry is set to boom in South Australia.
CCF SA Chief Executive, Ms Rebecca Pickering said the Coalitions commitment of $2.8bn of federal funding towards new and existing road infrastructure projects, including $456M on new road projects, productivity and road safety packages is one of the wins from the federal budget for South Australia.
“Local and regional civil construction businesses, including: road constructors, earth movers, traffic management personnel, and many industry suppliers, will all benefit from the ongoing commitments to improve, maintain and build new road infrastructure projects across our State,” she said.
However, one of the dampeners to the many federal budget positives is escalating material costs, including fuel which increases direct construction costs and freight expenses. Pickering said that the ‘Making the public dollar work’ policy by the new South Australian Labor Government is timely given current concerns.
“Rising material costs have become extreme, and contract clauses governing cost escalation are back in focus, as the civil industry grapples with an unprecedented coalescence of challenges. World events, extreme weather occurrences, rising inflation, interrupted production and pervasive labour shortages are straining on our industry.
“We support a review of government contract conditions to ensure contractors on Government projects are not penalised for increases in costs completely outside of their control. For example, situations where contracts do not contain, or are not open to, cost escalation considerations; or factor in changing business circumstances. Contractors are still expected to meet original budgets, even those well outside tender validity timeframes. As the civil industry continues to ramp up to meet existing and new demands, these challenges are expected to persist well into the future,” Pickering said.
The new SA Labor Government’s committed procurement reforms include: requiring government departments to pay contractor invoices within 15 days, assisting local business to become tender ready, requiring 1% of government funding into a sub-contractor support fund and a commitment to broadly publicise government procurement opportunities three months in advance, are all positive and will assist industry through these complex times.
“We are keen to work with the Malinauskas Labor Government to support these much needed procurement reforms and our focus will also turn to the upcoming South Australian State Budget to ensure critical needs such as ongoing road maintenance commitments of $800million are acknowledged and remain a permanent fixture in all future state budgets,” she said.
Pickering went on to say that there was no doubt that the civil construction industry was a significant industry employer with more than 2000 direct and indirect jobs needed to undertake this work, in addition to current labour forecasts.
“The rapid growth in local and remote civil construction activities as a result of infrastructure work will continue to drive work force demands and a wealth of employment opportunities – meaning our apprenticeship program has never been so important," she said.
Other federal measures include the extension to the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencement (BAC) wage subsidy until the end of 2021-22, which provides employers with 12 month wage subsidy support.
“This extension will support the work force growth and will allow more businesses to take on new or additional apprentices. The new Civil Apprenticeship trades including road construction, pipe laying, tunnel construction, traffic management, earthworks and mobile plant operation, provide proven pathways into secure and lucrative trade professions in the civil industry.
“The demand from industry is high, and will remain so for many years to come. We are very pleased with this extension,” said Pickering.
Whilst CCF SA maintains its industry voice on priority commitments, Pickering went on to say that the funding of Civil Apprenticeships will also remain a critical priority as they do not attract the $20k trade support loan and subsidies which fall $4,000 short overall per apprentice, in comparison to other building and construction trades.
“Civil Apprentices and the civil industry should not be disadvantaged in comparison to their trade peers,” she said.
“The ability of the South Australian economy to maximise the economic benefit from the federal budget in the short to medium term remains dependent upon our state’s ability to work together, meet Federal Government project milestones, and implementing new procurement reforms – but the future is bright if we do,” Pickering said.
Today the High Court handed down two long-awaited decisions regarding the engagement of independent contractors as compared to employees, an issue that has long been filled with complexity and fraught with risk.
These decisions have provided some welcome clarity, particularly confirming the focus is to be on the terms of the contractual documents. However, significant complexity remains and the decision also unsettles previously settled practices.
Click here to read more.
The Civil Contractors Federation South Australia (CCF SA) has forecast a robust future for the sector as they welcome the State Government’s commitment to a record $17.9 billion in today’s budget for infrastructure projects that will deliver jobs and improvements to the lives of all South Australians.
Federation Chief Executive, Ms Rebecca Pickering said it was now time to get the jobs moving and maintain the momentum in the State with a slate of projects that have been on the table for a while, and are now funded with a four-year forecast of investment.
“We are ready, across a range of industries in our sector, and we have the expertise right here in SA to take these budget commitments, along with unlocked Federal support, to deliver tremendous value to our community,” she said.
She said the fact the government was making the largest commitment to infrastructure spending in the State’s history was evidence of how important building, maintaining and developing infrastructure was to the state’s economy and the fabric of life across South Australia.
Ms Pickering pointed to the large number of road upgrades and projects earmarked in this budget as evidence of the inadequate focus on roads in the past causing a backlog, that in some cases requires complete reconstruction due to years of poor maintenance.
“Our priority remains to push both Federal and State Governments to maintain this significant infrastructure with appropriate levels of annual funding.
“Although 2021-2022 road maintenance increases in some areas, we are still some way from the $1 billion per annum required to maintain our roads,” she said.
“We are eagerly awaiting the finer detail now that the Government has boosted confidence and shown they are listening to our recommendations as we advocate for current and future projects that help make South Australia one of the greatest places in the world to live,” Ms Pickering said.
CCF SA will support the pipeline of dozens of projects, as thousands of jobs are created, by helping collaborate across the many essential trades and businesses that will be required to deliver these projects.
“We are excited that the local civil industry, including road constructors, pipelayers, traffic management, civil suppliers, quarries, resource recovery centres, mobile plant, transport operators, to name just a few, and their workers can start gearing up now for the mountain of work coming their way.
Next week, 22 June 2021, we will see the release of the South Australian State budget. We are excited about the 2021/22 infrastructure commitments and how they will translate into project starts. Over the last several months, we gathered your feedback and developed your ‘Digging Deep for South Australia’ document; highlights include:
Civil Workforce and Apprentices
“The State Government has a once in a generation opportunity to create a sustainable South Australian civil construction workforce. This requires meaningful funding and creative reform of skill development, training approaches and worker engagement supporting the whole of population activation.
“CCF SA seeks State Government support for youth entry into the civil industry via a fully funded Civil ‘Flexible Industry Pathway’ in Schools (Civil Industry Cadetships via Stackable VET). To date, the civil industry has not had a funded pathway in schools, it does not attract Training Guarantee for SACE Students (TGSS) funding or new 2022 Flexible Industry Pathways funding which has been recently released. A billion dollar industry, providing secure, long-term and lucrative civil careers, and today, it stands with a new innovative cadetship in schools but with no funding.
“The civil industry is a critical workforce. It builds essential public structures and services – roads, bridges, pipelaying, traffic, tunnels, foundations – for our South Australian community. Unlike other trades, there is a unique opportunity for direct Department of Infrastructure hosting of civil apprentices via industry backed Group Training Organisations. This direct hosting not only eases financial and commercial pressures on small and large civil businesses working to deliver state infrastructure projects, it also supports improved apprenticeship outcomes.
“Increased civil industry focused training incentives for workers and civil businesses. With SA’s tunnel project set to commence, funding is also needed to complete a civil industry workforce capacity and capability report to identify training needs.
“Civil Apprenticeships should receive fair and equitable distribution of funding in comparison to other traditional trades, but employers of Civil Apprentices receive $4k less than other traditional trades.”
Infrastructure Project Planning, Accountabilities and Small/Medium Enterprise (SME) Opportunities
“CCF SA seeks a budget that supports the commencement of projects (both Federal and State funded) already committed/announced and that these projects are awarded to industry in a manner which benefits whole of industry across all Tiers – smallest to the largest.
“Achieve a sustainable future works programme, supported by industry led robust bipartisan planning, including new and maintenance projects. Including early identification and prioritisation of projects including regular State submissions to Infrastructure Australia.
“Independent monitoring and reporting on Government Facilities Manager Partners, including industry engagement, with a primary focus on greater small business participation and opportunity.
“Obtain consistent and adequate annual budget and forward estimate allowance to maintain roads, services, bridges, and other public infrastructure. South Australia investment to be above the Australian average infrastructure investment per capita.
“Fund Industry undertakings to support the determination of South Australian infrastructure priorities – including the facilitation of direct submissions to Infrastructure Australia.
“State Government develops a policy that is very deliberately designed to ensure government work is made available to local SME businesses. Further, Government agencies are compelled to comply with such a policy. A % of works allocated to SMEs.”
Civil Contractors Federation SA (CCF SA) commends the $3.2bn of Federal funding towards local infrastructure projects announced last night, with the focus now turning to our State Government who are responsible for the delivery of these projects into South Australia.
Federation Chief Executive, Ms Rebecca Pickering said there were a number of wins in the Federal budget along with some stark omissions especially in regards to South Australia’s 5 to 10 year project trajectory.
“Disappointingly there appears to be no upcoming allocation for the Major Project Business Case Fund for SA. This funding supports Business Case development which in turn determines future South Australian projects. Without this commitment we have serious concerns for South Australia’s project forecast and pipeline in the near future.
“On the flipside it was terrific to see a Federal commitment to strengthen pathway services for 5,000 women to start non-traditional trades. Given that our industry aims to broaden its inclusivity and diversity commitments, this funding will assist us in reaching these goals,” Pickering said.
Other wins included the extension of the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements Program.
“Along with Civil Apprenticeships and Careers Ltd we are pleased with this extension - we just hope civil apprentices are included, unlike other funding programs that historically only service traditional trades.
“This segues into new civil businesses being developed through self-employment. The Self Employment Federal funding commitment is exciting, as one of our new strategies seeks to encourage and support new civil businesses entering the South Australian market. We will seek to maximise this opportunity for our local community and those wanting to start a new civil construction business in this state,” Pickering said.
Pickering noted that of the announced $3.2bn for major infrastructure projects, including the next part of the North-South Corridor, only $130.8m is allocated in the 2021/22 budget and that in regards to the Road Investment Component, there were significant increases, which is good news, but there is nearly $1B in road repair work currently outstanding.
“Investing in civil infrastructure projects generates jobs, boosts business confidence and underpins economic growth and our primary focus is seeing that these projects start and are completed in suitable time frames.
“Greater transparency is needed across all of our local infrastructure projects, from start to finish, to ensure the best outcomes for everybody. This includes planning studies, design, business case development, maintenance, procurement and project starts.”
Media release - Response to National Federal Budget.pdf
Recently Civil Train SA met with the Project Manager, Traffic Services and Road and Marine Services from the Department for Infrastructure and Transport (DIT), to discuss the extension of our current Deed as an approved training organisation. Civil Train SA would like to clarify some confusion with the current training requirements as they may differ to what you may have previously experienced in South Australia. The key areas often queried is the renewal process of gaining re-accreditation; please see below for information sought.
Unfortunately there is no leeway with course bookings, you cannot book a refresher course after your expiry date; it needs to be completed prior i.e. in South Australia, there is no leeway on vehicle licence expiry. If you drive at 1 minute past midnight the day after it expires, you will get fined if caught.
· INTERSTATE QUALIFICATIONS – a bridging course is required for people moving from other regulatory jurisdictions to enable them to be accredited within South Australia and to ensure they are compliant with the different workzone traffic management rules and conditions applied across South Australia. To complete this bridging course the learner must show they have successfully completed the units listed below and that their WZTM card is current. It should be noted training providers may have specific entry requirements to the one-day refresher including current industry experience. If a learner is unable to meet the requirements they will need to complete a full WZTM training course.
Currently DIT is reviewing the Interstate Bridging Course delivery method and are researching the possibility of online processes instead of a face-to-face course requirement. The bridging course will be designed to cover the subtle differences in legislation and signing in South Australia.
Please be vigilant of your team’s traffic WZTM renewal dates and if you need any further assistance in clarifying your requirements or obtaining your renewal please contact our Civil Train SA team for more information
Courses@ccfsa.com or 08 8111 8001
About the Heysen Tunnels
Named after artist and benefactor Sir Hans Heysen, the Heysen Tunnels were constructed as part of the $151 million Adelaide to Crafers Highway Project.
These tunnels carry the South Eastern Freeway (part of the National Highway network linking Adelaide to Melbourne and signed as National Highway M1) under Eagle On The Hill in the Mount Lofty Ranges in South Australia.
In 1998, the tunnels were excavated through a steep hill using a 50 tonne SW200 tunnelling machine, which was a first for South Australia. Approximately 100,000 cubic metres of rock was excavated from each 500 metre long tunnel.
Costing a total of $151 million, it was funded by the federal and state governments.
The tunnels were opened on Sunday, 5 March 2000, with each constructed to carry three lanes of traffic.
The maximum height of vehicles permitted in the tunnels is 5.3 metres, the same as the Crafers and Mt Osmond interchanges. Laser height detectors monitor traffic to provide warnings to drivers before they attempt to enter the tunnel.
As of 2018, more than 50,000 vehicles pass through the tunnels daily.
In June 2020, it was announced that as part of the Marshall Government’s $1 billion economic stimulus package, $15 million has been allocated to refit and upgrade safety for the Heysen Tunnel. At the time of the announcement, the completion date for the project would be in late 2021.
Read what commuters have to say about the tunnels on their 21st birthday celebration at https://www.facebook.com/DFITSA/
One of South Australia’s most influential industry lobby groups has called for greater transparency and collaboration between industry, government and the peak infrastructure agency to ensure the State maximises future opportunities to have major construction projects listed for priority funding in State and Federal Budgets.
The appeal was made today by the Civil Contractors Federation (SA) and followed the release this morning by the Federal Infrastructure Australia (IA) group, of its latest priority list of projects and initiatives around the country recommended for future Budget funding considerations.
Federation Chief Executive, Ms Rebecca Pickering, said the CCF (SA) welcomed the recognition by Infrastructure Australia in its 2021 list of the largest number of new proposals for South Australia in the list’s five-year history.
The CCF (SA) made a direct submission to Infrastructure Australia and says it is p0leased a number of projects nominated by it have now been included in the latest Priority List.
“In parallel with that, however, the CCF (SA) is a strong advocate for transparent future collaboration with industry, State Government and the independent advisory body, Infrastructure SA, to ensure new South Australian infrastructure projects are continually identified, submitted and shared with every South Australian,” Ms Pickering said.
“This will reverse the trend of recent years where SA projects received insufficient attention by IA.
“In order for today’s six identified SA initiatives to be transformative for South Australia, government agencies must engage with industry immediately to plan the delivery of these projects and those already listed as part of the record $16.8 billion committed in principle by government to SA’s future infrastructure needs.
“Today’s announcement of State Government $100m in road upgrades to commence immediately, including sections of the Horrocks, Riddoch, Eyre and Augusta Highways, is positive.
“However, a reliable and steady project release to market is critical during these unparalleled times. SA’s civil industry is mobilising to support current and future needs of our great state and it needs reliable projects to be released to maintain momentum and support growth.”
Ms Pickering said it was pleasing that SA’s road maintenance backlog (estimated to be worth at least $700m+) has now been recognised as an IA High Priority Initiative.
“The Federation has been advocating for this for several years and future Budget allocations could see a large improvement in SA’s road safety, while creating jobs in our State and building our local economy,” Ms Pickering said.
“Earthmovers, road constructors, pipelayers, road maintenance, traffic control, mobile plant operators and other civil business are digging deep for South Australia to deliver these projects, and the industry’s uptake of new Civil Apprenticeships is evidence of this.
“We celebrate today’s good news but promises need to translate into tangible, well planned projects. The CCF (SA) is committed to work with all stakeholders to ensure new projects and opportunities are continually presented to funding bodies.”
An experienced executive in the construction sector and industry lobbying, Ms Rebecca Pickering, has been appointed the new Chief Executive Officer of influential South Australian lobby group, the Civil Contractors Federation (SA).
Ms Pickering’s appointment follows an extensive national search, following the resignation, after nearly nine years, of its well respected CEO, Mr Phil Sutherland.
Ms Pickering comes to the position with considerable experience in both the construction sector and industry association work. This has included several years with the Master Builders Association in SA, and more recently the CCF (SA) as Director Apprenticeships, Group Training, and Industry Employment.
The President of the CCF (SA), Mr Paul Davison, said today that the CCF (SA) Board had every confidence that under Rebecca’s leadership, the Federation will continue to strongly represent the interests of the State’s civil contractors and deliver services of benefit to its membership.
“Pleasingly, we had a large field of high-quality applicants, but Ms Pickering was the stand-out candidate who was able to set out a very clear pathway forward,” Mr Davison said.
“We are confident that under her leadership, the CCF (SA) will maintain our position as the peak body representing civil contractors.
“Given Rebecca’s unique skills set and experience, we will see our very significant training operation, Civil Train, and our interest in Apprentices through our Group Training Organisation, continue to grow and develop.
For clients in South Australia, today’s news of a full lockdown has come as a shock. For businesses, questions arise as to what this means for employees.
Note: the below information is general in nature and relates solely to the ‘default’ stand down provisions set out in the Fair Work Act 2009. Employees who are covered by a contract of employment or enterprise agreement that provides differently may have different entitlements.
An employer may stand down an employee in circumstances where they are not able to be usefully employed – relevantly – due to causes beyond the employer’s control. A government enforced total lockdown affecting a business comfortably meets the test of a cause beyond the employer’s control. However, before making the decision to stand a person down, consideration must be given to whether or not the person can be “usefully employed”. This is an area that requires some consideration.
There is limited case law on what is meant by ‘usefully employed’ although the general rule of thumb is that the benefit received from the work must be more than the cost of paying the person to do so. Similarly, an employer is not required to substantially reorganise their workplace to create useful work. In most cases, this assessment will be obvious. For example, the closure of building sites makes it unlikely that on site workers would be able to be usefully employed. However, where work from home is available, consideration needs to be given to whether and, if so, how much, valuable work a person can perform. An employee required to process payroll may be able to be usefully employed to do this but if no work is performed, the following week may not be able to be usefully employed. A case by case assessment is required for unilateral stand down.
Employees are taken to not be stood down when they are on a period of authorised leave or other absence. It is generally accepted that an employee should be able to access accrued annual leave, long service leave or rostered days off unless there is good reason for them not to. Note that subject to specific provisions in awards/enterprise agreements or contracts of employment, an employee cannot be ‘forced’ to take a period of leave – it must be by agreement. Specific advice should be sought before issuing any direction to take leave or any refusal to grant a period of annual leave. Access to sick leave is generally not available although this is complicated, and specific advice should be sought.
Where there is an agreement between employees and employers (eg. an agreed stand down, or period of leave), many of the complexities outlined above can be overcome or minimised. As a result, it is strongly recommended that clients aim to work cooperatively with staff to make suitable arrangements, especially for the next 6 day period. For the most part, employees will have similar concerns such as child minding etc. which they will need to accommodate. These arrangements should be recorded in writing, such as a brief email. Although there is the ability to reach agreement employers should bear in mind that this is not ‘carte blanche’ and employment laws still apply. Accordingly, advice should be sought in relation to any specific agreement.
Employees who are stood down are not entitled to be paid, but will continue to accrue leave entitlements as usual. Employers who engage daily hire employees may consider terminating daily hire engagements although specific advice should be sought before taking this step as it is a termination of employment.
It is hoped that this is the end of the process but no-one can predict the future and should lockdown continue to affect your business after that time, it is also strongly recommended that employers revisit these arrangements regularly – perhaps weekly, or sooner if circumstances change.
Note that for employers who are currently on Jobkeeper, an employer would also need to pay the Jobkeeper amount. It is also noted that the effect of this lockdown may also entitle employers to Jobkeeper amounts and it is recommended that businesses discuss this with their accountant.
Disclaimer: the information above is general in nature only and specific advice should be sought in relation to a business’ specific circumstances. It is noted that awards, enterprise agreements and contracts of employment can impact on the above matters.
Note: the Fair Work Lawyers office will remain open (remotely) throughout this time and be able to respond to client queries. The contact details for our solicitors are:
Tom Earls 0409 939 010 firstname.lastname@example.org
David Putland 0419 839 125 email@example.com
Emma Avey 0413 474 428 firstname.lastname@example.org
Ethan Callan 0431 557 350 email@example.com
Sara Pekmez 0479 177 685 firstname.lastname@example.org
1, South Road,
(08) 8111 8000