Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 8 Hansard (9 August) . . Page.. 2643 ..
MR STEFANIAK (continuing):
Act 1999 intends that the training levy apply to all building and construction work as outlined in the schedule attached to the act. As well as the construction of buildings, the schedule covers all construction, repair, demolition or removal of such entities as roads, railways, dams or reservoirs and pipelines or electrical, communications or data networks.
The act was amended in November 1999 to facilitate the collection of the levy through a mechanism similar to that used for the collection of levies under the Building Act 1972. This approach required a change to the definition of "the owner of the work". An unintended consequence of this change of definition was to exclude work such as the installation of underground cables or telecommunication lines on poles on public land or on easements.
It has become apparent that there is much cabling work currently being undertaken by telecommunications and power companies that is not included in the act by virtue of the wording of the Building and Construction Industry Training Levy Act 1999. The likely loss of income to the training levy is in the order of $179,000 per annum. To remove this loophole, which is contrary to the intent of the act, the definition of "owner of the work" has to be broadened to include owners of work involving the laying of cables underground or overhead on public land or on easements on land owned by other parties.
It has also become apparent that the valuer referred to in the act is not necessarily competent to estimate the value of certain types of engineering construction and non-building development. The use of the term "valuer" is generally related to persons valuing building construction by estimates of floor area. Such persons are not competent to estimate the value of non-building construction such as roadworks and telecommunication networks. The range of persons referred to in the act to estimate the value of the work needs to be broadened and made more specific to include quantity surveyors, engineers and architects. That is being done separately through the Building and Construction Industry Training Levy Regulations 2001.
The amendment proposes to close the loophole in the most direct way by broadening the definition of "owner of the work" to include projects carried out on public land or on easements on land owned by other parties. In addition, there is an amendment to make more precise the meaning of item 11 of the schedule of work for the purposes of the act. The amendment is simply to delete the term "on-site" so that item 11 reads, "Electrical, electronic, communications or data networks or mechanical services work, including work that is related to the construction, erection, installation, alteration, repair, servicing or dismantling of any plant, plant facility or equipment". That removes any ambiguity surrounding whether an electric pole tower or pole on public land is a building site.
In future, the training levy will be collected for all work listed in the schedule attached to the Building and Construction Industry Training Levy Act 1999, including non-building construction on public land and easements. The proposed amendments will impact only on those companies or agencies erecting cables on power lines in or on other structures in public places and/or easements.
Building and construction businesses other than cable laying companies would react favourably to the move to ensure that the levy is related fairly to all relevant construction activity. They would welcome a more even playing field. They would also welcome the