Media Release 17 May 2023

Unexpected lesson in State Budget, say WA Master Plumbers

The Master Plumbers and Gasfitters Association of WA (MPGAWA) says the WA 2023 Budget has unexpectedly highlighted the need to reform the State’s building and construction industry while showing that the WA Government is well placed to do what is required.

MPGAWA CEO Murray Thomas is urging the WA Government to take advantage of the State's strong financial position – which Premier Mark McGowan emphasised in his budget speech – by directing resources into permanent structural and regulatory changes in the industry.

"While the Government has our full support for 2023 Budget initiatives such as additional funding for apprentice training and visa subsidies to attract skilled migrants, we can't escape the fact that the building and construction industry – which comprises a huge proportion of the State’s economy – has underlying problems that can only be addressed by overhauling the framework of training, licensing, inspection and compliance enforcement under which it operates."

"Meanwhile, Budget predictions include a continuing tight labour market, inflation and higher wages. These will put added stress on contractors and sub-contractors, leading to more pressure to cut costs and deliver substandard work."

"If we are to reverse this destructive race to the bottom, the full implementation of all recommendations in the 2018 Building Confidence report is essential. Already, the annual cost of building defects in WA is approximately $475 million. Unless something changes, this staggering figure can only increase."

"While we understand the WA Government has competing priorities, our position is that the quality of our infrastructure and the buildings in which we all live and work is fundamentally important. We look forward to working with the Government to help them transform the industry."

Building and construction industry reform is a key policy area for MPGAWA, which is a member of the Building Consultative Committee and actively engages with WA Government ministers, industry regulators, unions and other industry bodies.

In May 2022, MPGAWA presented the WA Government with its Building on Solid Foundations proposal, which calls for WA to introduce a tiered licensing system and a strong, independent building inspection authority.