HomeBuilder construction deadline extended | PerthNow

The federal government has extended the deadline to begin construction under the HomeBuilder grants program by an additional 12 months.

Those who were eligible for the grant before its March 31 conclusion will now have 18 months after signing contracts to commence construction.

This is a year longer than previously allowed.

“This extension in the commencement date for which the first slab can be laid is a very important step,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told reporters.

“It will help ensure a pipeline of economic activity.”

Approvals to build private homes struck a record high in February, fuelled by the HomeBuilder scheme and record low interest rates.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics said since the introduction of HomeBuilder in June 2020, private house approvals have risen by almost 70 per cent.

In February, home approvals jumped by 15.1 per cent to 13,939 houses, breaching the previous peak set in December last year.

The HomeBuilder scheme was introduced during the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic and late last year was extended to March, although the size of grants were trimmed from $25,000 to $15,000.

The Property Council of Australia on Saturday welcomed the deadline change, saying HomeBuilder had been an “economic bullseye” and the extension would ease pressure on home builders to begin construction quickly.

The Housing Industry Association said its members had been constrained by supply chain issues and labour pressures, and needed the additional time.

“The uptake of HomeBuilder has created a lifeline of work for tradies and helped support tens of thousands of first home buyers to achieve their dream of owning a home,” the HIA’s Graham Wolfe said in a statement.

“Members have been severely impacted by global supply constraints and labour pressures. Builders and their clients have also been juggling delays in finance approvals, planning and building approvals and land title.”

Master Builders Australia chief executive Denita Wawn said 70 per cent of builders were struggling with delays or cost increases for labour and materials, and they could now space out their construction pipeline.

The Labor opposition also welcomed the change, with housing spokesman Jason Clare saying it “should have been made a long time ago”.

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Threatened shorebird breeding ground stops construction of rock wall at beachside tip

A south-west Victorian council is requesting government permission to ignore environmental restrictions and build a rock wall on the breeding grounds of a threatened shorebird. 

Port Fairy’s disused tip has been causing the Moyne Shire Council headaches for decades since it closed in the 1970s.

The old tip contains rubbish, faeces, asbestos and medical waste from the town’s old hospital. 

When it was first commissioned it sat about 100 metres inland, but decades of coastal erosion have brought it within coastal dunes, to the point that rubbish has spilled out from the tip on multiple occasions in the years since.

The regional shire has a plan, and the funding, to protect the ocean from any more damage.

It wants to build a rock wall to dispel wave energy from the vulnerable site. 

However there’s a catch: the only time they can do it is when a vulnerable bird is breeding in the dunes in front of the tip site. 

The shire’s under increasing pressure to act fast and protect the site. 

Recent wild weather saw boulders from the town’s south beach strewn across low-lying roads, prompting renewed discussions within the town about the future of the old tip. 

The site avoided much of the damage caused by the storms, however a storm of another kind’s brewing in the seaside town.

Moyne Shire’s Director of Infrastructure and Environment, Trevor Greenberger, said he understood the community’s anxiety to protect the popular beachside spot. 

“The issue is that the construction period that we would like to build the rock walls is also in the hooded plovers nesting season,” Mr Greenberger said. 

“So we’re trying to work through those challenges of how we can construct the walls without impacting on the hooded plovers.”

Hooded Plovers are considered a threatened species in Victoria.

The birds lay their eggs in sand dunes along southern and eastern coasts of Australia, however their young often meet an early demise due to their vulnerability to other activities along beaches. 

Their hatching season is the only time the Moyne Shire can access the beach side tip site to build the wall, leaving the council between a rock and a hard place.  

“We’ve applied to the federal government for an exemption to the environmental considerations for the hooded plovers to allow the works to occur as soon as possible,” Mr Greenberger said.

“We’d love to be able to start work in October. We were actually ready October of last year but were held up because the approvals weren’t through at the time. 

“So whether it’s a protection of a threatened species or protection of the the sea not having rubbish spewing into it. That’s the considerations and challenges the government’s currently considering.” 

The Moyne Shire expects a response from the Commonwealth by the end of the month.

A spokesperson for federal Environment Minister Susan Ley said the minister was reviewing the request. 

“The Minister may only grant an exemption if she is satisfied that it is in the national interest for the Moyne Shire Council to proceed with the activities specified … without an approval under the Act,” the spokesperson said. 

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UK investors expand anti-slavery push to construction, materials sectors

FILE PHOTO: Construction workers are seen working at a site in London, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), London, Britain May 11, 2020. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

April 12, 2021

By Simon Jessop

LONDON (Reuters) – A UK investor coalition that presses companies to unearth modern-day slavery in their supply chains said on Monday it was going to expand its campaign into the construction and materials sectors.

The ‘Find It, Fix It, Prevent It’ initiative – founded in 2019 by CCLA Investment Management – has focused up to now on the hospitality industry.

“The construction industry is estimated to contain 18% of the world’s victims of forced labour,” CCLA’s chief executive, Peter Hugh Smith, said.

“It also has a complicated supply chain that spans the globe. Both of these factors make it an important sector for investors to engage in addressing modern slavery.”

The coalition said it now had 56 investors among its members – including M&G, Fidelity International, Schroders and Edentree – that together managed 7 trillion pounds ($9.6 trillion) in assets.

It said it would start engaging with companies in the construction and materials sector in the third quarter of 2021.

There has been a growing focus on ethical issues in corporate supply chains.

A separate group of religious and socially conscious investors, backed by the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, told Reuters last month it was ramping up pressure on Western apparel companies with supply chains in China.

Sara Thornton, The UK’s Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner said in a statement that companies had to do more to protect vulnerable workers.

“Investors have a pivotal role to play in ensuring that they do this,” she added.

($1 = 0.7295 pounds)

(Reporting by Simon Jessop; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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New Logan PCYC enters final stage of construction

The new $14 million PCYC facility in Slacks Creek is taking shape.

With most of the external building complete, work has started on the internal fit-out and landscaping.

City Lifestyle Chair, Councillor Laurie Koranski said the PCYC was a welcome addition to multi-purpose indoor sports facilities provided by Logan City Council.

“There are many benefits from participating in physical activity, including improved well-being and staying connected with the community,” Cr Koranski said.

“The programs that will be run from this new facility will help residents and visitors of all ages to be active and healthy.”

Divisional Councillor Mindy Russell said works had progressed well and that once complete, the complex would be a vital asset for the City of Logan community.

“The building we have designed in conjunction with PCYC Queensland and the State Government responds to the needs of the community and delivers a modern fitness and recreation centre,” Cr Russell said.

The 4700 square metre building features a rhythmic and artistic gymnastics hall, gym and boxing facilities, multi-purpose rooms for youth programs and activities and an administration area.

Member for Waterford Shannon Fentiman said the project, jointly funded by the Queensland Government and Logan City Council, is supporting more than 46 full-time jobs.

“This is great news for our Logan community, especially our families and local sporting groups,” Ms Fentiman said.

“It’s fantastic to see the work is well underway and supporting local jobs during construction.

“The new home for the Logan PCYC will ensure we can provide the best community facilities for our growing city.”

PCYC Queensland Chief Executive Officer Phil Schultz said it was rewarding to see their new Logan headquarters near completion.

“We enter a new era in 2021 with an exciting new home for the PCYC Logan where we can build on the opportunities for young people in Logan,” Mr Schultz said.

“PCYC Queensland is all about supporting young people and the community with innovative activities, programs, outside school hours care and more.

“Support from the Queensland Government and Logan City Council for this new facility allows PCYC Queensland to continue delivering our vision of building safer, healthier communities through youth development.”

The new PCYC is expected to be complete in early June, subject to weather.

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Wheels turn on Rail Trail construction

Work is about to start on a 3.5km walking, hiking and riding trail between Logan
Village and Yarrabilba.

The trail is being built on the former Bethania to Beaudesert rail corridor which is now
a Logan City Council-managed road reserve.

It starts at Logan Village Green and runs through to Buxton Park in Yarrabilba.

The ‘Rail Trail’ includes a 2.5m wide asphalt pathway, a watercourse crossing near
Yarrabilba, earthworks and drainage, bollards and wayfinding and entry signage.

The project is a joint initiative of Logan City Council and the Queensland

Planning Chair Deputy Mayor Jon Raven said the Rail Trail was one of the priority
projects formulated from community feedback from the Logan Village Forum in 2018.

“Yarrabilba is one of our city’s high-growth areas with lots of young families and the
Rail Trail will provide an important and healthy link to the shops and businesses in
Logan Village,” Cr Raven said.

City Lifestyle Chair and Division 4 Councillor Laurie Koranski said the Rail Trail would
help better connect the local community.

“The Rail Trail, combined with the My Home and the River shared pathway which is
also under construction, will make it easier for everyone to get to Logan Village.

“With our fantastic new playground opening soon on the Green, families can walk or
ride safely along the Rail Trail for a fun and healthy day out.

“It will also promote an active and biking culture that will attract people from across
South East Queensland to visit our area and help boost the local economy.”

The Rail Trail project received $2million in funding from the Queensland Government
under the post-pandemic Unite and Recover Community Stimulus program.

State Member for Logan Linus Power said Logan City Council and the Queensland
Government were working together to build an active connection between the Logan
Village and Yarrabilba communities.

“The Rail Trail will provide local jobs during construction and help City of Logan
recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mr Power said.

The Rail Trail is expected to be finished by the end of June, weather permitting.

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Man dies on Sydney construction site at Liverpool

A man has been killed on a construction site in Sydney’s south-west.

Emergency services were called to Northumberland St in Liverpool after it was reported a man had fallen on a site.

The 52-year-old was treated at the scene but died. He is yet to be formally identified.

WorkCover have started an investigation.

A report will be prepared for the coroner.

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Victorian builders baffled by decision to stop construction in lockdown

Victorian builders say the state’s latest five-day lockdown rules are excessive, especially for regional Victoria where work has ground to a halt just when it was getting back to normal.

Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews says the statewide blanket lockdown is a “circuit breaker” to a growing cluster in Melbourne’s north.

But for Tanya McNamara, whose construction firm has been rebuilding homes in East Gippsland, all the lockdown has done is disrupt the flow of rebuilding after last summer’s bushfires.

“Everything’s booked and now we’re trying to reschedule.”

While many have been waiting to rebuild, Mrs McNamara said those who had permission were frustrated by the delay.

“We’ve got a number of fire-affected properties. They’ve had hardship enough without this kind of stall as well,” she said.

David Jackson was only two weeks away from moving into his new home in Sarsfield, after his property was badly damaged during the fires.

“We’re just waiting for the electrician to do the fit off and a few final touch-ups and then we’re in,” he said.

He said after 13 months of living in temporary accommodation, he was fed up with the decision to down tools.

“Just to sit there and have nothing happening, it’s just devastating,” he said.

Under the modified stage-four restrictions, construction is not deemed essential work, despite exceptions made in metropolitan Melbourne for construction during its previous stage-four lockdown.

While regional Victoria was under lighter restrictions than Greater Melbourne last year, builders were allowed on-site with masks and social distancing.

Mrs McNamara said the new rules seemed excessive for regional Victoria, especially in Bairnsdale in East Gippsland.

“We sometimes have only one or two people on site at any one time — it does seem a little bit ridiculous for us,” she said.

There was also confusion for renovation businesses on Friday.

Murray Pinnington runs a kitchen and bathroom construction business in Mildura.

He said they were only advised on Saturday morning by the Master Builders’ Association that they were not considered essential workers.

“There were several emails on the Friday afternoon saying that they’re working on it and they’re gonna keep us in the loop and that sort of thing,” Mr Pinnington said.

“But there was no clear answer, no definitive answer, until Saturday morning.”

Mr Pinnington has eight staff on hold with three projects in progress and another due to begin on Monday, but said they were on standby for any emergency repairs.

“If we get called out for any emergency work, we’re just going to play it by ear,” he said.

“I dare say all my guys are sitting by the phone waiting for a phone call anyway, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find someone.”

Making a cheeky reference to professional athletes falling under the category of essential workers, Mr Pinnington took to social media with a photo of a tennis racquet in his tool belt to update his customers of the change.

Horsham-based business owner Dean Hogan said the rule “didn’t make sense”.

He said he considered it the harshest lockdown so far for the building industry, considering the number of active COVID-19 cases.

Mr Hogan said it halted work on the significant backlog of jobs he had due to the popularity of the HomeBuilder grant scheme.

“In country Victoria, there are a lot of small business operators that often might only have six months of work booked up, but at the moment … I’m a year and a half booked out,” he said.

“It’s just painful when I know we’ve got that much work to do.”

Master Builders’ Association of Victoria chief executive Rebecca Casson said the restrictions were the harshest the building and construction industry had faced to date.

“For the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, here in Australia our wider industry will be completely stopped,” she said.

Ms Casson said all the builders she had spoken to said their workbooks were absolutely full to the brim and any extension of the lockdown could be “catastrophic” for the industry.

“This could have a devastating effect on the future economic recovery if lockdown was to go for longer than five days.”

Ms Casson said there were some exceptions for building and construction work to continue such as for road and infrastructure projects and emergency housing repairs.

“You might still see a little bit of building and construction happening and people might be a bit confused as to whether or not they’re allowed to go onto work sites or not,” she said.

“But those critical infrastructure projects have received very specific exemptions from the Government.”

The Department of Health has been contacted for comment.

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Construction of the Collaroy South Narrabeen seawall begins, but residents’ funding questions remain

Ten beachfront property owners in Sydney’s north said they have had to stump up $280,000 each to fund a $25 million seawall that will protect their houses from collapsing into the ocean.

The state government and council are together tipping in 20 per cent of the costs for the construction of a wall stretching from Collaroy to South Narrabeen after heavy surf and powerful storms put them at risk of being washed away.

Now there’s an additional $300,000 in engineering and legal fees, which resident Bob Orth thinks someone else should pay.

Collaroy-South Narrabeen seawall under construction.
The construction of a seawall stretching from Collaroy to South Narrabeen in northern Sydney is underway. (9News)

Mr Orth’s beachfront property at Collaroy was almost washed away in the 2016 storms.

However he said footing the additional costs would not be easy for residents.

In fact, some residents have had to dip into their superannuation.

“It’s not a rich list here, it’s a lot of different family people who have had to come up with $300,000,” Mr Orth told 9News.

“At the moment the contribution from state [government] and council is only based on construction, which is once you physically start building the wall. Prior to that, there’s a lot of costs [such as engineer and legal fees].

Collaroy homes hit by brutal king tides (AAP)
Collaroy homes were almost consumed by huge king tides in 2016.
Residents were evacuated and temporary retaining walls to stabilise properties.

“We believe at the very least that cost should be taken into account in the contribution of the state and the council.”

Mr Orth argued the wall was not just being build to protect the multi-million dollar homes, which made it unfair for residents to have to fork out so much for it.

He said the wall will also protect the streets behind the beachfront strip, including Pittwater Road.

“If this wasn’t built, come a couple of storms like we had in June 2016, there won’t be Pittwater Road, there won’t be sewage, there won’t be telephone lines, data cables, all the services… let alone a road.”

He said there’s a considerable benefit to other locals for the 1.3 kilometre barrier to be built on beachfront residents land.

Coastal erosion at Collaroy on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. (Getty)

“It’s private land this wall is built on but it’s going to have a big public benefit,” he said.

Despite the cost, Mr Orth said the erection of the wall is a “great relief”, with the area at constant risk when wild weather whipped up.

“It’s taken a long time but we’re really pleased with it and the progress we’ve made.”

The damaged multimillion-dollar beachfront properties were left teetering on the eroded coastline since violent storms lashed the coast in 2016.

Sea foam caused by wild weekend of storms in Sydney

Collaroy-South Narrabeen seawall under construction.
The first section of the 1.3 kilometre barrier is being built to stop coastal properties from toppling into the sea. (9News)
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Click or tap on the banner to find out how to download the 9News app for breaking and localised news alerts. (9News)

Residents were forced into emergency accommodation while damage was assessed, with sandbags used to stabilise the area.

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Mt Wellington cable car developer hoping to start construction this year, despite set-back over Aboriginal heritage requirement

The Mount Wellington Cableway Company is pressing ahead with a tourism development on Hobart’s mountain that it says is “needed badly” by the state, despite another set-back over its efforts to address Aboriginal heritage concerns.

The company took the Hobart City Council to the Resource, Planning and Appeals Tribunal (RMPAT) last year, after the council asked for more information on Aboriginal heritage.

Right to Information documents show the company was unable to bring an Aboriginal heritage consultant into the state and proposed to go ahead anyway, alerting authorities if a site of significance was found.

But the Tribunal handed down a decision Monday afternoon, directing the company to provide the information to council as requested.

MWCC chair Chris Oldfield said the company was disappointed but not deterred.

“We’ve now got some direction from the Tribunal on some extra work we have to do and we’ll now get on and do that.” he said.

One Aboriginal opponent of the project says the company has a “complete lack of understanding of Aboriginal heritage”.(Supplied: MWCC)

Mr Oldfield said MWCC was concerned that meeting council’s request would require a much more intrusive on-site survey.

“With accompanying disturbance of the land, we did not believe it was appropriate to do that prior to approval of our development application.”

Vica Bayley from Residents Opposed to the Cable Car said the RPMAT decision was bittersweet.

Nala Mansell from the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre agreed.

“I think it shows a complete lack of interest and understanding of Aboriginal heritage and our connection to our heritage.”

She said it was important that an onsite survey took place.

She urged the cableway company to work with the Aboriginal community.

“We always offer developers the opportunity to understand the importance of our sacred sites, to ensure they do not continue with any further desecration of the areas.”

Artist's impression of cable car near Organ Pipes.
The company’s chair says he is aware the “mountain means different things to different people”.(Mount Wellington Cableway Company)

‘We’ll learn from this, we’ll move on’

Right to Information documents reveal the Department of Environment advised the Mount Wellington Cableway Company it wasn’t legally required to follow the guidelines of the Aboriginal Heritage Act.

But Chris Oldfield said the company was not looking to lay blame.

“We take advice from a range of people and at the end of the day it’s our decision what advice we choose to take; we’re not blaming people here, we simply went to the Tribunal seeking clarity, they’ve now given us clarity.”

He said there is nothing more important to the company than working with the Indigenous community.

Artist's impression of cable car terminal.
The company’s visualisation of the project’s ‘base station’.(Mount Wellington Cableway Company)

But Mr Oldfield revealed it had been difficult to get an Aboriginal heritage consultant to undertake the work in the past.

“For a couple of reasons: one, there’s been some reluctance from members of the community and I understand that the mountain means different things to different people.”

He said the company was “successful in finding someone to do this work” but then “COVID came along”.

He said it was up to the company now to try to re-establish the relationships.

In a statement, Hobart City Council’s General Manager Nick Heath said the council was pleased the Tribunal had provided clarity and it now awaited the required information.

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Traffic congestion to worsen in Brisbane CBD thanks to major construction boom

The council’s infrastructure committee on Tuesday heard more than 10 major projects, both government and private, are underway in the city centre this month and will continue through most of the year.

Queen’s Wharf, Cross River Rail, new state schools, Waterfront Brisbane, the Kangaroo Point green bridge, Brisbane Metro and the new performing arts venue in South Bank were some of the construction projects flagged.

Multiple other private developments, such as skyscraper office and apartment towers, are also being constructed this year in the CBD.

Traffic modelling completed by the council, using 2018 traffic levels as a baseline, found the sheer number and size of the projects, many of which will need temporary lane closures or diversions, meant travel times could increase.

There could be “extended queues” onto the Riverside Expressway through to the Captain Cook Bridge and Coronation Drive, a report presented to councillors said.

Buses through the city could also be delayed, and motorists are predicted to change their driving habits to avoid the worst of the congestion points in a “substantial redistribution of traffic”.

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