Sydney apartment construction sites to resume, while Melbourne sees strict lockdown

Construction delays will hit the estimated 320,000 Victorian workers
Sydney apartment construction sites to resume, while Melbourne sees strict lockdown
Jonathan ChancellorSeptember 21, 2021

Big and small apartment project sites have been hit by the snap two-week shutdown imposed by the Andrews government, as leading industry figures called for calm amid the civil unrest over work site safety issues.

Salta Properties managing director Sam Tarascio, who oversees the one of the state’s largest private developers, told The Australian that he “supports the Victorian government in a pathway that will keep the property and construction industry safe”.

“We are open to working with the government and public health teams to get the Victorian construction industry back on site as quickly as possible,” he said.

The Victorian government said it had “no choice” but implement a shutdown after safety inspections revealed 50 per cent non-compliance with lockdown rules.

There were more than 350 Covid-19 cases across 150 building sites, Premier Daniel Andrews said.

The chief health officer had consequentially announced the entire industry would have to be vaccinated — at least a first shot – by the end of this week.

The construction delays will hit the estimated 320,000 workers, who will seek out the Federal Government support measures.

The site closures will hit ASX listed companies including Lendlease, Charter Hall, Mirvac and Stockland.

"The way out of this is not violence, but vaccination," Daniel Andrews said today, after 48 hours of violent demonstrations.

He said he was "gutted" to shut the construction sites. The Victorian construction industry had been one of the few industries that worked through the pandemic.

The Property Council of Australia expressed disappointment in the decision which it estimated would cost more than $1bn a week.

The PCA Victorian executive director Danni Hunter condemned the actions of rogue protesters, but said the government needed to lay out a plan for reopening as soon as possible.

“Closing the industry will prevent them going to work and getting paid and it will stall projects, causing immensely costly delays, putting projects and Victorian jobs at risk,” Ms Hunter said.

In Sydney the NSW government announced it will allow construction sites to get back to full capacity with non mandatory vaccine requirements from Monday.

The rules in NSW limiting construction sites to 50 per cent capacity if they have any unvaccinated workers will be removed as the sector implements rapid testing.

The Sydney construction sites will be allowed to have one person per four square metres, even if unvaccinated workers are present.

The PCA advised across Western Sydney, the property and construction industries account for $19 billion in economic activity and 121,465 full-time equivalent jobs, "but with COVID causing financial havoc, recovery is vital."

“Returning construction sites to full capacity - with appropriate safeguards in place – will provide a shot in the arm for our state’s recovery as the COVID pandemic continues to impact swathes of the economy,” the Property Council of Australia NSW executive director, Luke Achterstraat said.

“Resuming site capacity will also enable NSW to build the homes our state so desperately needs.

“We know that Sydney’s housing challenge is not meeting the Government’s own target of 42,000 new homes per year. 

"The removal of the 50 per cent cap on worksites is an important step in easing the handbrake on housing supply,” he said.

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of Australia's most respected property journalists, having been at the top of the game since the early 1980s. Jonathan co-founded the property industry website Property Observer and has written for national and international publications.

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