More than 30 peak bodies and key stakeholders from across Tasmania’s civil, commercial and residential construction sector have met with the State Government to discuss COVID-19’s impact on the industry.

The Tasmanian Government made assurances that it would continue to back the construction sector amidst the uncertainty caused by the pandemic.

Representatives from residential and commercial construction, along with civil contracting and many other allied sectors such as plumbers, electricians, painters, architects, landscape architects and building surveyors joined the industry forum.

While there has been tremendous growth in these sectors over recent years, COVID-19 is providing longer term uncertainty for businesses, contractors and employees.

Each sector has been affected by COVID-19 and all have been working with the purpose to ensure their businesses and workplaces are compliant with social distancing and increased hygiene requirements.

While many indicated that work is continuing across their sectors, there was a general observation by industry representatives that a number of private sector projects have been delayed or even cancelled in the medium term.

The Tasmanian Government has already announced a number of stimulus measures, including bringing forward public infrastructure funding to help support these sectors, but said it understands more will need to be done. 

The government said it will continue to work with industry on ways that it can assist and provide longer term certainty of upcoming public sector projects across government and government-owned businesses.

It is focused on engaging with these sectors by hearing their concerns and suggestions and making sure Tasmania remains a strong place in which to invest and build.

National agreement to maintain planning pipeline

The Tasmanian Government has welcomed a national agreement aimed at ensuring that planning assessments and approvals will continue throughout the COVID-19 pandemic so as to not slow the construction sector and its contribution to job security and the economy.

Planning ministers at state and federal level, as well as the Australian Local Government Association, have agreed on a set of principles for how the nation’s planning systems should operate during this time.

The impact of the pandemic means swift changes to planning regimes are necessary to ensure development applications can still be properly assessed and approved, and that other planning regulations can be amended to deal with current health and economic challenges.

The following agreed principles, which will be each state’s responsibility to implement, will ensure the community can continue to have confidence in the integrity of our planning systems:

  • Decision making in the public interest is a paramount theme in all planning systems and this must continue as a guiding consideration
  • Transparency for stakeholders about changes to systems and particular decisions
  • Decisions made within jurisdictions are consistent, where possible
  • Consideration of the level of public interest in a particular planning change or development proposal
  • Balancing administrative and legal review rights with the need to address the pandemic emergency and to assist community and economic recovery
  • All reasonable effort is made to maintain the usual pace of planning approvals recognising, as far as practical, community consultation will continue through new forms of communication recognising social distancing requirements

The Tasmanian Government has already implemented measures consistent with these principles to ensure development assessment and approvals processes can be kept open, and applications can continue to be processed.

It has provided for increased flexibility in administrative functions and proceedings of tribunals and planning authorities, including allowing for councils to meet via teleconference and videoconference as well as authorise and sign certain documents electronically.

In addition, documents that would ordinarily need to be available at council offices in hard copy are now accessible online.

The Tasmanian Government said it would continue to identify and implement ways to ensure that essential planning processes, and associated public participation, can continue throughout the coronavirus emergency.

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