CANBERRA’S construction industry has experienced more job losses than construction workers in any other Australian state or territory, according to job data released by the Australia Bureau of Statistics (ABS) this week.
Since Australia recorded its 100th case of COVID-19 on March 14, Master Builders ACT CEO Michael Hopkins says ABS data shows that employment in the ACT’s construction sector by declined 8 per cent, which is more than any other state or territory.
“This week’s jobs data reveals that Canberra is not immune from the economic downturn resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, and confirms the MBA’s call that the ACT government should be doing more to support the local economy,” he says.
And it doesn’t end there, with Mr Hopkins saying that the Employment Minister Suzanne Orr is today (May 21) expected to introduce a bill in the Legislative Assembly that will further burden labour hire companies.
“[It will] burden labour hire companies with a new obligation to obtain a license before employing people, including young apprentices, in the ACT,” he says.
“The bill will make it an offence to engage someone through a labour hire company which has not correctly navigated the complex licensing regulation that the ACT is wanting to impose.
“The timing of today’s bill shows a lack of understanding by the minister of the real issues being experienced by ACT small business, many of whom rely on the flexible employment arrangements that reputable labour hire companies provide.”
Ms Orr, according to Mr Hopkins, announced her intention to commence a transition period from January 1, however, he says a number of economists are predicting that the economy is still expected to be under significant pressure at that time.
“For many of the close to 10,000 Canberrans that lost their job in April, labour hire companies can provide flexible employment options which will keep people in work,” he says.
“Labour hire companies provide flexible and legitimate options to those small businesses who are uncertain about their economic future, whilst also providing an opportunity for those businesses to meaningfully engage workers throughout the ACT.”
Now, the MBA is calling on the MLAs to dedicate their limited time in the Legislative Assembly to focus on laws which protect public health and promote economic development.
“Anything less will mean that ACT employers and workers will be at a disadvantage compared with every other state and territory,” he says.