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Construction costs in Tasmania could rise as major projects come on line, warns independent MP Andrew Wilkie
Yahoo News

13/07/2014, Independent federal MP Andrew Wilkie has raised concerns about the cost of construction in Tasmania when a number of significant projects come on line about the same time.

The Royal Hobart Hospital redevelopment was put on hold two months ago and it is being reviewed.

Construction is expected to resume early next year, coinciding with the Myer redevelopment in Hobart, two new hotels and a student accommodation project.

Mr Wilkie said that would put pressure on the workforce.

"Because the State Government stuffed up the rebuild project so badly, we've had next to no work for ages, and now all the work's going to hit at the same time," he said.

Mr Wilkie has also raised concerns that Tasmania's construction industry would struggle to cope.

"The hospital, university accommodation, at least two new hotels, so we're going to go from a period of no work to a period of probably too much work, which is going to cause its own problems for the local industry, including inflationary problems," he added.

Master Builders' Michael Kerschbaum said it was likely to affect labour supply.

"If that workload increases, quite obviously it's going to lead to delays to obtaining some subcontractors, potentially materials as well," he said.

But he said Tasmania had a relatively flexible workforce.

Mr Kershbaum said 6,000 workers had left the building sector in the past few years because of a major downturn.

He said many of them could be attracted back if there was at least two years of work available.

"You deal with your local resources as best as you can, then you start to import, it costs a lot more to bring labour in and that's just a reality, " he said.

"It takes four years to train a tradesperson and unfortunately that won't save us."

He said he was frustrated with a lack of action from the State Government on ensuring the timelines for Government projects were planned better.

"We've been advocating for a dozen years now for some sort of public timetable, a roll out of projects, so that at least the private sector can work around it and the Government internally can also manage its own resourcing and procurement," he said.

He met Treasurer Peter Gutwein two weeks ago to discuss the issue.

"He's taken it on board, we'd like to see some chase up... we do expect that something will come off and the sooner the better from our point of view," he added.

The Electrical and Plumbing Union agreed that workers should be able to be attracted back.

Michael Anderson from the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union (CEPU) said there should also be some good opportunities for apprentices.

"An abundance of work would allow apprentices access to training on these large projects, and provided the supervision ratios are correct the building companies can actually invest in their own futures," he said.