Australia: Construction & Infrastructure - What's News - 15 March 2016

Last Updated: 22 March 2016
Article by David Lewis, Stephen Burton and Suzy Cairney

Most Read Contributor in Australia, September 2017

In the media

Victorian union organiser facing multiple claims in Federal Court
Victorian CFMEU official Joseph Myles has been put before the courts over allegations he repeatedly breached workplace laws at the Springvale Level Crossing Removal between 19 June 2013 and 1 April 2014 (10 March 2016).   More...

Gas industry, activists at odds over US case of 'negligent' well drilling
Australia's gas industry and anti-fracking campaigners are closely watching the ramifications of a US court case that found a company was negligent in its natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania  (11 March 2016).   More...

Case note: US jury has decided that Cabot Oil and Gas Corporation was "negligent" in its drilling program, and created a "private nuisance by contaminating water wells" owned by two nearby families.

Strong new quality standards for solar products
An independent testing program is being introduced for solar panels and inverters to ensure that the actual performance of products being sold in Australia meets marketing claims. Products that are not up to standard will be removed from the CEC's list of approved products (11 March 2016).  More...

Expansion of carbon certification to include committee for cities, precincts and buildings
The Australian National Carbon Offset Standard was introduced in 2010 to set requirements for businesses, products, services and events seeking carbon neutrality. An Expert Committee has been formed to expand the current scheme as well as work towards a carbon-neutral certification for buildings, with the first meeting to be held in April 2016 (08 March 2016).  More...  More...

More than $11 million in inland rail contracts awarded
The Australian Rail Track Corporation has awarded more than $11 million in contracts in recent weeks to progress planning on the Inland Rail project. The contracts include a range of crucial field studies and environmental assessments across three states (08 March 2016).  More...

Formwork code helps form safer workplaces for Queensland construction workers
Workers dealing with formwork on Queensland construction sites will now work in safer environments following the release of a remade Formwork Code of Practice (08 March 2016).  More...

Australia's banks face rising bad debt charges as mining fades
Bad-debt provisions at the lenders are set to rise to their highest in eight years by 2018, as the chances of defaults in the mining, agricultural and dairy sectors increase, according to a survey by Bloomberg (07 March 2016).  More...

New green building partnership to push best practice boundaries
The Green Building Council of Australia, the Living Future Institute of Australia and the International Living Future Institute  have signed a memorandum of understanding which outlines a commitment to work towards common goals in the high performance buildings realm in Australia (02 March 2016).  More...

Moree Solar Farm starts feeding into the grid
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency and Clean Energy Finance Corporation  today welcomed the news that the Moree Solar Farm in Northern New South Wales had successfully achieved first generation (01 March 2016).   More...

Grab opportunity to build very fast train now, says former trade minister Andrew Robb
The Commonwealth is no closer to committing to a very fast train with the Abbott government's decision in 2013 to protect identified rail corridors but abolish the High Speed Rail Advisory Group (29 February 2016).  More...  More...


Melbourne traffic woes better solved with rail than upgraded roads, transport expert says
A joint study between Melbourne University and RMIT also found the public transport network would be improved by more elevated train lines, or a "sky rail" network (02 March 2016).  More...

Record $27 billion Victorian building permits in 2014
New data released from the Victoria Building Authority shows that the state had a record value of building permits reported in calendar year 2014 of $27 billion, with all regions of the state reported an increase on the previous calendar year (02 March 2016).  More...

Government's response: Independent advisory committee's first report
The report included 40 recommendations focusing on transport, future infrastructure, design controls, community engagement and sustainability – 34 of which have been adopted in full and six in part, including the need for a new planning taskforce dedicated to drafting plans (01 March 2016).  More...

New South Wales

Sydney Metro Northwest's Skytrain underway
The first section of Sydney Metro Northwest's Skytrain is complete, meeting another important milestone for Australia's biggest public transport project (09 March 2016).  More...

Western Sydney airport high speed rail link essential
Announcements by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull that a high speed rail link must be ready for the opening of the Western Sydney Airport in 2026 is good news, says the Urban Taskforce (11 March 2016).  More...

Urban Taskforce submission: Role of transport connectivity on stimulating economic activity and development
The Urban Taskforce submission highlights the need for an equitable and transparent approach to value capture associated with the provision of new transport infrastructure and outlines a range of options to fund transport infrastructure (29 March 2016).  More...


Palaszczuk Government's vision for Queensland's infrastructure released
The Palaszczuk Government has released Queensland's first State Infrastructure Plan in more than three years and announced the establishment of a new State Infrastructure Fund, with an injection of $500 million, to build the infrastructure needed to grow the economy and support (13 March 2016).  More...

Enforcement orders issued against Queensland Nickel Sales
Hours after transferring an Environmental Authority permitting Queensland Nickel Sales to operate the Yabulu refinery, the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection has served enforcement orders demanding the company take action to ensure the environment is protected (11 March 2016).   More...

Linc Energy committed for trial
Linc Energy Limited has been committed to stand trial in the District Court at Dalby, at a date to be set, on five charges of wilfully causing serious environmental harm, in contravention of the Environmental Protection Act 1994 (11 March 2016).  More...

Queensland home building pipeline still strong
There is plenty of work in the home building pipeline despite signs of new work peaking according  to Housing Industry Association (HIA)(09 March 2016).  More...


Australian Bureau of Statistics

01/03/2016 - Building Approvals, Australia - Jan 2016 (cat no. 8731.0).

29/02/2016 - Mineral and Petroleum Exploration, Australia - Dec 2015 (cat no. 8412.0).

State Infrastructure Plan (Queensland)
The long-term State Infrastructure Plan outlines significant reforms to the way Queensland plans, prioritises and invests in infrastructure, and follows the establishment of Building Queensland as an independent infrastructure advisor to government and Market Led Proposals to encourage new private sector investment (13 March 2016).  More...

Practice and courts

Tradespeople and homeowners warned of immediate risks from Infinity electrical cables
The Infinity cables taskforce is distributing a bulletin to licensed electricians and builders throughout the country reminding them of their obligations under industry laws, and advising them about their potential liability if they fail to notify home owners and regulators (02 March 2016).  More...  More...

Announcements, Draft Policies and Plans released 2015

PCA submission: Review of Security of Payment legislation
Fair Trading is conducting a full review of the Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act 1999.  The security of payment laws are designed to ensure that a person can receive payment under a construction contract for carrying out construction work or providing any goods and services related to that work (02 March 2016).   More...  More...

New adjudication qualification course starts April 2016
A three day course will be delivered by Contract Administration Group Pty Ltd.  More...

Have your say on the Security of Payment discussion paper
The Security of Payment discussion paper has now been released and is available for detailed feedback. This aims to improve security of payment for subcontractors in the building and construction industry. Submissions close on 31 March 2016.  More...

Queensland Building and Construction Commission Disciplinary actions

Licensees suspended or cancelled -  28 February to 6 March 2016 (PDF).

Licensees excluded -  28 February to 6 March 2016 (PDF).

Victorian Building Regulations have been extended
On Tuesday 16 February 2016, the Governor made the Subordinate Legislation (Building Regulations 2006) Extension Regulations 2016, which extends the operation of the Building Regulations 2006 until 5 June 2017.  More...


Thiess Pty Ltd and John Holland Pty Ltd v Parsons Brinckerhoff Australia Pty Ltd [2016] NSWSC 173
CONTRACT – building and construction – plaintiffs' joint venture responsible for construction of project – claims brought against four defendants – first, second and fourth defendant no longer a party to proceedings – claims against those defendants remain relevant to determination of liability of third defendant CONTRACT – breach of contractual obligations by third defendant – where third defendant responsible for reviewing and reporting on suitability of designs of first and second defendants in conditions actually experienced– failure of third defendant to continually review and report on designs in the changing conditions of the project - breach of contractual obligations proved – causation also proved NEGLIGENCE – s 5O of Civil Liability Act – whether widely accepted peer professional opinion available as a defence for third defendant – expert evidence fails to support this argument – defence fails DAMAGES – apportionment of damages between first, second and third defendants – where primary responsibility allocated to first and second defendants – where all those parties caused significant, independent loss – court held third defendant liable for 1/3 of agreed damages.  More...

Bergman v CGU Insurance Ltd [2016] VSC 81
INSURANCE – Non disclosure – Property comprising land and residential buildings purchased by insured with intention to demolish buildings and build new family residence when circumstances permitted – Property leased in meantime – Insured did not disclose intention to demolish buildings when effecting property insurance – Fire at property during policy period – Whether intention to demolish relevant to the insurer's risk and ought to have been disclosed – Whether insurer would have declined risk on any terms if intention disclosed – Held: material non-disclosure relevant to risk and insurer's liability under policy should be reduced to nil – Insurance Contracts Act 1984 (Cth) ss 21, 28.  INSURANCE – Misrepresentation – Question in insurance proposal as to whether insured property 'to be demolished' – Proposed insured intended to demolish when circumstances permitted – Whether insured's answer 'no' contained representation that he did not intend to demolish – Whether representation false – Held: answer wrong and amounted to misrepresentation at inception of policy – Whether misrepresentation a continuing representation on later renewals of policy – Held: representation continued at later renewal – Fire at property during policy period – Whether insurer would have declined risk on any terms if question answered correctly – Held: insurer's liability under policy should be reduced to nil – Insurance Contracts Act 1984 (Cth) ss 26, 28; Limit No 2 Ltd v AXA Versicherung AG [2009] Lloyd's Rep I.R. 396, 403 [26], 403–4 [27]; FAI v McSweeney & Ors (1999) 10 ANZ Ins Cases 61–443 at 75,052–4; Sutton on Insurance Law Thomson Reuters, 4th ed, Volume 1, 618–9 [7.940], 622–3 [7.960], considered.  More...

Harrop Engineering Australia Pty Ltd v Beauville Pty Ltd [2016] VSC 17
CONTRACT – Sale of businesses – Common mistake – Rectification – Construction of the contract – Alleged breaches not established – Variation – Breach – Loss not established – Whether further adjustments to purchase price required.  More...

This publication does not deal with every important topic or change in law and is not intended to be relied upon as a substitute for legal or other advice that may be relevant to the reader's specific circumstances. If you have found this publication of interest and would like to know more or wish to obtain legal advice relevant to your circumstances please contact one of the named individuals listed.

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