The essential role that the construction industry and its supply chain plays in the Australian economy is being increasingly recognised by Australian governments in their efforts to tackle the coronavirus emergency.
The NSW Government and the City of Melbourne have both announced reforms increasing flexibility in the hours that construction sites are permitted to operate; initiatives that have been welcomed by the heavy construction materials industry.The changes allow construction sites to operate on weekends and public holidays in NSW, and for extended hours everyday on Melbourne construction projects during the COVID 19 emergency.
This comes at the same time as the Victorian Government is considering a similar move following calls from the construction industry for construction sites to be able to operate around the clock.
Ken Slattery, the Chief Executive Officer of Cement Concrete & Aggregates Australia, the peak body for the heavy construction materials industry, said the new planning guidelines in NSW and the changes by the City of Melbourne would ensure essential construction projects progressed while allowing construction workers and product suppliers to observe social distancing and other workplace safety rules.
Mr Slattery said the heavy construction materials industry was a critical component of the construction sector, employing more than 110,000 direct and indirect employees – and contributing over $15 billion a year to the national economy.
“The production and distribution of heavy construction materials is essential to the continuing operations of the Australian economy, including the building of hospitals and schools to the completion of major road projects,” he said.
“Our industry has an overriding committment to ensure the health and wellbeing of all our employees, contractors, customers and the community at large.
“We welcome the changes announced by the NSW Minister for Planning and Public Spaces, Hon Rob Stokes, and by the City of Melbourne, and encourage State and local authorities elsewhere in Australia to also better support this critical industry by ensuring that their regulations provide the flexibility to improve both safety and productivity on construction projects.
“We all have a role to play in tackling this national crisis and in ensuring the safety of our community as well as the long-term viability of our social and economic infrastructure and these initiatives are practical ways of doing so.”