Member for Lowan Emma Kealy has called on the Andrews Labor Government to immediately intervene to revoke a massive planned fee increase set to hit the region’s builders.
The Victorian Building Authority is proposing to increase practitioner registration fees for both individuals and companies by up to 181 per cent in May, a move that will add further costs and upward price pressure on Victorian housing.
Ms Kealy raised the issue in state Parliament after being contacted by Horsham builder Dean Hogan, who expressed his alarm at the proposed increase and the implications it would have for both building practitioners and consumers.
Quoting from a letter from Mr Hogan, Ms Kealy advised Parliament: “The building industry is already struggling with material shortages, labour shortages and price increases that have almost destroyed margins completely. For government to impose such unreasonable increases at any time is unfair, but in the current circumstances this is way beyond reasonable. These increases should be pegged to inflation at most… I have not seen any evidence to justify the increased cost – either as a benefit to consumers or as a benefit to practitioners”.
Ms Kealy said Mr Hogan’s analysis was spot on.
“There have been so many pressures on the building industry that we have seen particularly exacerbated over the pandemic period – massive shortages in all materials really, but particularly in timber, plasterboard and batts,” she told Parliament.
“There have also been massive price increases as well, which have been passed on to builders.
“They cannot just pass them on to consumers, which is what was recommended by one of Labor’s ministers. If you have got a fixed price agreement, if you have quoted for a job and there has been an increase in the cost of these materials in the interim time, the builder must absorb these fees.
“One builder I have been speaking to advised that frames have gone up $17,000 and trusses $13,000 since he quoted a job – that’s a $30,000 price increase that he has to absorb. We have also got massive price increases in steel, with the average steel-framed house going up by about $9000.”
Labour and apprentice shortages are also having a significant impact on builders.
Ms Kealy said the current pressures meant there was no justification for the planned VBA fee increase.
“I have asked the government and the minister to immediately intervene and get rid of these massive price hikes that could make the difference between our builders keeping their doors open or shutting them for good and tradies losing jobs,” she said.
“Only a Matthew Guy Liberal and Nationals Government will commit to introducing no new taxes and back families and small businesses to recover and rebuild from the COVID pandemic.”