Australia: Construction & Infrastructure - Whats News - 1 February 2017

In the media – National

State of the States: New South Wales and Victoria continue to outperform the rest of the country
Australia's two-tier economy — where non-mining regions continue to outperform those states and territories more aligned with the fortunes of the mining sector — remained firmly entrenched in the latest quarterly "State of the States" report released by Commsec (23 January 2017). More...

Have we passed the trough in resource-dependent markets? The national CBD office market vacancy rate was reported at 11.9% in the fourth quarter of 2016 – a 0.7 percentage point reduction on the year (from 12.6%). Leasing market conditions remain strong in Sydney and Melbourne. The rebound in commodity prices over 2016 has also translated into positive sentiment in the resource-dependent markets of Brisbane and Perth (20 January 2017). More...

NBN could reach half of Australia by June, leaving three years to connect the rest of the country
Australia's National Broadband Network could be half-completed by June, the NBN Co has revealed, leaving just three years to connect the rest of the country, including large swathes of major cities such as Sydney, Brisbane, and Hobart (18 January 2017). More...

$12 million boost for positioning technology in Australia
The funding will be used to test instant, accurate and reliable positioning technology that could provide future safety, productivity, efficiency and environmental benefits across many industries in Australia, including transport, agriculture, construction, and resources (17 January 2017). More...

Australian civil construction to thrive in 2017
Many of the industries likely to disappoint this year have performed strongly in recent years, but research suggests boom times for these industries are over, at least for the next 12 months, according to IBISWorld senior industry analyst (16 January 2017). More...

In the media – Victoria

Solar trams transporting Victoria to a brighter future
Melbourne's tram network will be powered by a new large scale solar plant to be built in regional Victoria. The Andrews Labor Government will run a tender to help build 75MW of new large scale solar farms, delivering $150 million in new capital investment and 300 new jobs (19 January 2017). More... More...

Building Appeals Board dismisses appeal for alternative solution to Lacrosse cladding issue
The Building Appeals Board has dismissed the appeals of owners and the builder that would have permitted an alternative solution to replacing the non-compliant product (16 January 2017). More...

In the media – New South Wales

New South Wales set for several more years of construction boom: Australian Construction Industry Forum
Going forward, Australian Construction Industry Forum (ACIF) expects the value of construction work done to rise further from $52.986 billion in financial year 2015/16 to more than $54 billion in each of 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19 respectively (26 January 2017). More...

A welcome step towards more homes but still more to do
The Property Council today welcomed Planning Minister Rob Stokes and the New South Wales' State Government's proposed changes to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 as a good next step to streamlining the planning system and boosting housing supply in New South Wales (16 January 2017). More...

In the media – Queensland

Queensland subcontractors could lose $2 million on government contracts
Subcontractors in Queensland could lose up to $2 million on state government funded public housing sites after yet another builder has been placed into liquidation, media reports suggest (27 January 2017). More...

High level building and construction meeting kicks off year of reform to strengthen the sector
Queensland's peak construction industry leaders have met for the first time in 2017, kicking off an important year of reform for the industry (20 January 2017). More...

$70M brought forward for regional infrastructure projects
Councils will have access to the $70 million the Queensland Government's Building Our Regions sooner to help boost regional infrastructure and jobs, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said today (17 January 2017). More...

Palaszczuk Government welcomes release of second Building Queensland Pipeline
The Palaszczuk Government has welcomed the release of Building Queensland's second Infrastructure Pipeline Report, an independent analysis of Queensland's priority infrastructure projects (16 January 2017). More...


ACI Construction Briefs A fortnightly communication highlighting key updates related to Australia's construction industry (16 January 2017). More...

Australian Bureau of Statistics
18/01/2017 Building Activity, Australia, Sep 2016 (cat no. 8752.0)
18/01/2017 Construction Activity: Chain Volume Measures, Australia, Sep 2016 (cat no. 782.0.65.001)
18/01/2017 Engineering Construction Activity, Australia, Sep 2016 (cat no. 8762.0)

Practice and courts

Select Committee into the Resilience of Electricity Infrastructure in a Warming World
The closing date for submissions was 27 January 2017. The committee is due to report to the Senate on or before 24 March 2017. More...

Public consultation: National Carbon Offset Standards for Buildings and Precincts
The Department invites comments on the new National Carbon Offset Standards for Buildings and Precincts from 30 November 2016 to 10 February 2017. More...

Senate Inquiry Update
Non-conforming building products
Status: Accepting Submissions; Date Referred: 11 October 2016; Submissions Closed: 01 December 2016; Reporting Date: 25 May 2017.

Announcements, Draft Policies and Plans released 2016

Queensland Building Plan: discussion paper
The government would be rolling out a comprehensive consultation program through early 2017 with public consultation sessions right across the state. The Queensland Building Plan discussion paper and information about the consultation can be found at Have your say on the Queensland Building Plan Closes: 31 March 2017.


Mt Cotton Constructions Pty Ltd v Greer [2017] QCAT 011
CONTRACTS – BUILDING AND, CONSTRUCTION CONTRACTS – INTERPRETATION OF THE CONTRACT DOCUMENTS – RULES OF CONSTRUCTION – where contract terms unclear – ambiguity – evidence of surrounding circumstances – contract able to be given meaning.
CONTRACTS – BUILDING AND, CONSTRUCTION CONTRACTS – VARIATIONS – builder's failure to comply with statutory requirements – claim for restitution by owners – claim for all moneys paid for variations - voluntary payment – effect of s 84 Domestic Building Contracts Act 2000 (Qld) – owners not entitled to recover moneys paid.
CONTRACTS – BUILDING AND, CONSTRUCTION CONTRACTS – DAMAGES –- owners giving credit for value of fixed price and variation work – owners suffering no loss.

McNulty & Ralph v Sel [2017] QCAT 010
DAMAGES – MEASURE AND REMOTENESS OF DAMAGES IN ACTIONS FOR TORT – MEASURE OF DAMAGES – DAMAGE TO LAND AND BUILDINGS – where informal and unsigned contract with unlicensed builder – where builder did not file response – where damages to be assessed – where Tribunal may consider informal agreement in claim for negligence – where builder had duty to take reasonable care in performing work – where purpose of damages to restore applicants to position they would have been in had wrongful acts not occurred – where costs to rectify and complete directly attributable to builder performing work without licence, without due care and skill, not to proper standard or at all, without authorisation and supplying and using materials not fit for purpose – where partial refund not recoverable in addition to costs to rectify and complete.

Spencer v Acacia Forge Pty Ltd (Civil Claims) [2017] VCAT 99
Application for review by respondent, claim for refund of deposit by applicants, contract, essential term. The application for review is granted and the order made 28 September 2016 is set aside. The respondent shall pay to the applicants the sum of $6,558.00 together with the application fee of $204.90 a total of $6,762.90.

Europa Blinds & Drapes Pty Ltd v Bardiqi (Civil Claims) [2016] VCAT 2212
Action for a debt; accrual of right to payment of contract price; substantial performance of obligations under contract; respondent must pay the applicant $2,234.

Austruct Group Pty Ltd -v- Bluenergy Engineering (Australia) Pty Ltd [2017] WASC 10
Corporations law - Statutory demand - Application for leave under s 459S of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth).

ABB Australia Pty Ltd v CH2M Hill Australia Pty Limited & Ors [2017] NTSC 1
Construction Contracts (Security of Payments) Act 2004 (NT) ("the Act") s 48(1) – application under s 48(1) to set aside adjudicator's determination under s 33(1)(a) to dismiss an application for adjudication without making a determination on the merits - by consent referred to the Supreme Court pursuant to s 18 of the Local Court (Civil Procedure) Act 2015 (NT).
Applicant sub-contractor served payment claim on respondent in respect of money said to be owing under a construction contract – applicant in breach of security requirement in the contract – respondent replied by letter requiring applicant to resubmit its payment claim for certification by respondent after provision of replacement security – applicant provided replacement security and resubmitted payment claim in identical terms – respondent replied certifying a lesser amount payable under the contract but claimed to set off that amount against liquidated damages – applicant applied for adjudication under s 28 of the Act – adjudicator appointed.

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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Christine Jones
Scott Alden
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