“Blindsided”: business groups call for more consultation and engagement

Local businesses and community groups have been blindsided by a last-minute regulatory change made with no consultation or engagement with key stakeholders and implemented just two days before the commencement of the caretaker period.

Amendments were made on 9 September to the controversial Secure Local Jobs Code, but business and community groups impacted by the changes weren’t informed until 8 days later.

Master Builders ACT CEO Michael Hopkins said “It is important that the next ACT Government supports local jobs, not make it harder and more expensive to run a business in Canberra.”

The amendments to the Secure Local Jobs Code will mean that unions will get unprecedented access to workplaces which will delay projects and add to the cost of public infrastructure such as hospitals, schools and utilities.”

Canberra Business Chamber CEO Graham Catt said, “Local businesses and community groups tell us that they need clear information and effective consultation. They are growing tired of new regulation being introduced with no or little consultation or communication with key stakeholders.”

“During the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic the ACT Government was engaging regularly with industry and business groups. Unfortunately, however, more recently there has been a lack of consultation on the introduction of new regulation such as this.”

ACT Executive Director of the Property Council of Australia, Adina Cirson, said, “Poor consultation has also become the norm in other parts of Government in particular on building reforms, with a Minister who on one hand says the government is serious about addressing building quality but refuses to the consult the professionals who are able to improve it.  It’s simply not good enough.

In recent months, the Government had surprised industry by announcing developer licensing and government building certification via the local media, rather than utilising existing consultative frameworks, allowing sufficient time to review draft policy, and allowing sufficient transition periods before new laws commence.”

Australian Hotels Association General Manager Anthony Brierley said, “The private sector generates a significant amount of taxation revenue to fund the activities of the ACT Government and employs 60% of Canberrans. The private sector deserves a seat at the table; Canberra businesses deserve to be respected rather than having regulatory changes unilaterally foisted upon them.

Mr Catt said “It is vitally important that the next ACT Government is business friendly, following good policy development practices to consult and engage effectively with all industry and business sectors.”