MASTER Builders Victoria (MBV) will be hosting the Treasurer of Victoria, Tim Pallas, in a forum on Tuesday, September 28 to update the industry on the current situation with key supply shortages impacting the building and construction sector.

The Treasurer will be joined in the on-line discussion by the Commissioner for Better Regulation and Red Tape Commissioner, Anna Cronin, along with industry representatives including builders, retailers, and suppliers.

MBV CEO Rebecca Casson said the forum was a timely opportunity for the industry to come together for a supply chain update and to discuss and share potential solutions.

“Our industry’s supply chain challenges have been present for many months and have had significant impacts on Victorian builders of all sizes,” she said.

“As we continue to work collaboratively towards a solution to our current shutdowns, lockdowns and reopening, these supply chain issues will not resolve themselves, so we are hopeful that this forum can produce some tangible suggestions for both short, and longer, term solutions.”

While regional Victorian builders are in a much better position with respect to being able to work during the two-week metro shutdown, Gary Sauvarin of Considine and Johnston in Leongatha says it’s been far from plain sailing.

“Although no where near as difficult to the situation in Melbourne, we have felt the impact on the shutdown in Melbourne and the lock-out for metro tradespeople,” said Mr Sauvarin this week.

“For example, we have a specialist contractor we use from Melbourne for all our staircases, and while we’ve endeavoured to work around those issues, they can cause delays.

Mr Sauvarin said it had continued to be difficult to get building supplies, especially the longer lengths of 90×45 and 90×35 framing pine that was so heavily used on site.

“It’s not just the timber though, they’ll be shortages of supplies in all areas, and it’s up and down. Some of the materials you order seem to be easy to get at one stage and then impossible the next.

“You’ve got to be ordering as far out as you can and even then not be sure of getting it.

“They were talking about supplies freeing up by Christmas but I can’t see that. I think we’ll be in this situation for at least the first half of next year.”

On the issue of the compulsory vaccines for tradesmen and others working in the construction industry, while construction workers had to provide employers with proof they have had a first dose by 11.59pm on Thursdaty night, September 23, proof-of-booking exceptions will apply, in line with previous requirements for residential aged care workers.

“I think we’re moving along in that regard with the proof-of-booking providing a bit of leeway but I think we’ll get there.”

Mr Sauvarin said however, that any efforts on behalf of the construction sector to free up building supplies was to be encouraged.

Tuesday’s MBA forum will be held against the backdrop of the Federal Government’s announcement during the week that more than $15 million in Federal Government funding will be provided to help salvage bushfire damaged logs off Kangaroo Island to address severe timber shortages in the building industry.

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said the program would target around 300,000 tonnes of timber from Kangaroo Island and was an expansion of its previous Forestry Salvage Transport Measure, that was made available to bushfire-affected timber in New South Wales and Victoria last year.

MBV President Mark Little said the announcement was welcome news given the significant timber shortages that have been driving contract prices up and blowing out building timelines.

“And while it won’t all be coming to Victoria, as an owner of a building company, I can tell you that anything that adds supply to Victoria’s major shortage is welcome news,” he said.

Delays with ordering building materials and the rising cost of timber, steel, concrete and just about everything else made the construction job tough enough without the issues associated with the COVID pandemic.