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Across the country the industry is facing increasing challenges

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Advocacy is one of the key reasons that industry associations like Master Plumbers exist. Representing the interests, concerns and priorities of members has long been at the core of what we do. Without these efforts the industry would be worse off and governments would not be held to account.

Across the country the industry is facing increasing challenges

In Victoria, Master Plumbers’ recent publication, Plumbing Industry Priorities, clearly sets out what matter most to members and why. It seeks to give stakeholders, policy makers and legislators an insight into the critical role the plumbing industry plays in the key areas of economic, health, community and environmental policy.

It shines a light on the important issues facing our industry, challenges current approaches and identifies workable solutions outlining significant opportunities ahead for the industry, particularly around hydrogen energy.

Master Plumbers will put Plumbing Industry Priorities to all political parties in Victoria ahead of the State election later this year and, in this edition we summarise those priorities for you.

Across the country the industry is facing increasing challenges with rising costs and uncertainty, and what looks like an accelerated trend to push risk onto plumbing businesses.

It is not uncommon for businesses to have seen increases of nearly 50 per cent for products over the past few months, with supply costs of common materials going up dramatically, including: UPVC (46%), PE pipe & fittings (8%), ductile iron (10%), copper (23%), plant hire (18%), quarry products (25%), fixtures, tapware and silicones - the list goes on.

For a majority of members who utilise lump-sum, fixed quotations or contracts, these increases are not sustainable. Being notified and aware of price increases are a challenge at the best of times, but we are now witnessing suppliers refusing to hold their prices for any longer than 30 days and not willing to hold stock or orders on their customer’s behalf unless the goods are invoiced and paid for.

Compounding this, the stark reality is that the supply of goods and materials is uncertain, so selections of materials by consumers, engineers, plumbing practitioner, architects and/or developers cannot be guaranteed, and completion is dependent on materials available at the time, regardless of initial choice and cost.

All levels of government need to provide greater leadership in helping the industry look at alternative options and mitigate these risks but unfortunately, they appear to be doing quite the opposite in practice.

On even small government projects there is extremely limited (if any) scope to include cost escalation and sensible risk-sharing measures such as rise-and-fall contracts, open-book arrangements and deletion of liquated damages due to material delays outside a contractor’s control.

These onerous and one-sided contracts for the head contractor and sub-contractors continue a detrimental shift for our industry from building and maintaining critical infrastructure to simply administering contracts.

Master Plumbers will continue to advocate that all levels of government must shoulder an equitable part of construction risk.

We accept the need for high scrutiny where public expenditure is concerned, but a more sensible and fairer sharing of risk by governments is needed if this ‘profitless boom’ is not to turn into a ‘profitless bust’ for many businesses.

Scott Dowsett President, Master Plumbers
Peter Daly CEO, Master Plumbers


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