This week our National President, Andrew Hickman and I spent most the week visiting our WA Members. It felt great to walk through many Members’ business operations, and hear from them face to face about what’s happening on the ground in WA.
The consistent theme is a severe skills and labour shortage, busy programs of work, and supply chain pressures. It was evident that the challenge to meet contractual commitments due to not having enough people, coupled with a lack of confidence in future work and uncertainty over head contractor stability, is putting extreme stress and pressure on Members.
All agreed that while COVID-19 turned the world on its head, the emerging picture is a different business environment with unexpected challenges most believed would be here for some time to come. The pipeline of work, while not certain, was full for most Members with expectations that next year would see even more increased activity. WA has the lowest unemployment rate in the nation, and it is this, combined with the mass exodus of workers during COVID-19 who have failed to return, that is contributing to the labour shortage problem.
Wednesday saw a well-attended WA Members’ meeting at Cbus offices. James from Cbus updated Members on the latest superannuation reforms and Travis from Victaulic provided a comprehensive presentation on their latest UMC valve. Valve discussions soon led to a friendly debate over valve compartment requirements, and it wasn’t long before Australian Standards clauses were being thrown around the room. It was great to see Members able to engage in person on technical matters. NFIA Members’ meeting are the perfect conduit for Member discussions on a range of matters and I encourage Members to get along to the many NFIA Members’ Meetings being run in your state.
I was also able to meet with the WA Construction Training Fund to discuss opportunities to have fire protection post trade courses added to their subsidised training list. The visit gave our National President and I the opportunity to see firsthand the situation in WA and I have come away with a range of action items for the NFIA to work on to assist our WA Members. Thanks to all the Member companies who generously and freely gave up their valuable time to meet with Andrew and I.
In other news, the QLD Ministerial Construction Council (MCC) subcommittee which I Chair has finalised its report into the Review of the Fire Protection Regulatory Framework. This review fulfills the Government’s election commitment to progress a review into the fire protection regulatory framework through the MCC to address the non-rectification of defective fire protection systems.
The Subcommittee’s work is to consider the following issues raised by industry and make recommendations to the MCC about how to address the matters:
- The number of reported defects arising from routine maintenance inspections of prescribed fire safety installations in buildings.
- The level of compliance of building occupiers in rectifying defects identified during maintenance inspections.
- Other matters relating to fire protection as referred to in the scope section of this document.
The report is being progressed through final sub-committee approval and the NFIA is proud to have led this extremely important work for our Members and industry.