The Victorian Government has repaid the construction sector for its time in a two-week COVID-19 shutdown with a $196.6 million support package.
More than 70,000 businesses became eligible to receive grants rangig from $2000 to $8400, depending on the recipient’s annual payroll.
Cement Concrete & Aggregates Australia (CCAA) state director for Victoria Brian Hauser said while the shutdown hadn’t affected quarries, the CCAA had advocated for the reopening of the construction industry given the mutual benefits of the sectors.
“Quarries have been able to remain open throughout the pandemic as authorised work places,” Hauser said. “This is a testament to the management of this health risk by our members working closely with the government.
“CCAA have worked tirelessly with other peak bodies and unions to advocate to government for the re-opening of the construction sector two weeks after it was closed.
“We’re confident the ‘reset’ has combined high levels of compliance with vaccination as a condition of work to keep people safe.”
The support for Victoria, however, was measly compared to the 85 per cent more COVID-19 Disaster Payments received by New South Wales in the week to 26 September.
New South Wales has received $6.15 billion in these payments compared to Victoria’s $2.4 billion.
Treasurer Tim Pallas said he expected more of the Federal Government in this instance, but would support the construction industry regardless.
On the shutdown, Hauser added vaccinations were the way to go in avoiding them in the future.
“Government subsidies are of little value when an industry is closed. The greatest benefit is to have construction and its supply chain fully and safely open to secure both livelihoods and lives as we recover,” he said.
“The time for lockdowns is over. High rates of vaccination and comprehensive risk management across the industry will ensure we can all rebuild sustainably.”
IQA President Shane Braddy reiterated Hauser’s point.
“With the construction industry now back at work in Victoria and other locked down regions, it is important that the quarry industry leads by example and abides by COVIDSafe plans,” he said.
“The IQA encourages the industry to support its workers to get their vaccinations as soon as practically possible and to follow COVIDSafe plans, including the treatment of masks like any other PPE. This includes ensuring that the masks are clean and worn properly, and that workers understand how masks contribute to reducing the risk of airborne viral transmission.”