Thinking | 18 August 2020

Certainty for the construction industry: State Critical Infrastructure Projects listed

By John O’Kane and Bradley White

The announcement of stage 4 restrictions triggered confusion and chaos as many business owners and employees were uncertain as to how the restrictions affected their work.

Since that announcement, the Victorian Government has released information at regular intervals to bring more clarity and address questions. Recently, the Victorian Government has answered one of the burning questions of the construction industry: ‘Is my project a State Critical Infrastructure Project?’

Why does it matter?

The stage 4 restrictions divide the construction industry into different categories, these include small-scale construction, large scale construction and construction of critical and essential infrastructure. Each category is subject to different rules, for instance large scale construction work projects are required to limit the maximum number of personnel on site to the greater of 25% of their baseline workforce or five workers. Baseline workforce is the average number of workers on a site across the project lifecycle.

Those who fall under the critical and essential infrastructure category are exempt from restrictions that may have otherwise applied. Critical and essential infrastructure projects are able to operate business as usual, provided there are no inconsistent government instructions.

What does critical and essential infrastructure mean?

A project can meet the definition of critical and essential infrastructure in three ways:

  1. it involves construction or maintenance of critical and essential infrastructure where the Victorian Government has deemed, and the Chief Health Officer has endorsed, that it is urgently required for the purposes of sustaining human health, safety and wellbeing;
  2. where the project has been deemed by the Victorian Government to be a State Critical Infrastructure Project; or
  3. the construction is for the purpose of national security or defence.

Does my project qualify for the exemption?

If you believe that your project satisfies the criteria in item one above, you can apply for an exemption by contacting COVID-19Team@ecodev.vic.gov.au.

Any application will require significant supporting documentation and it is anticipated that few projects will qualify. Four projects are currently exempted, two relate to pharmaceutical manufacturing, one is for a pharmaceutical distribution centre and the last is a logistics centre for a courier company.

Alternatively, you can check to see if your project has been deemed a State Critical Infrastructure Project in accordance with item two above. The full list of projects is available here (at the bottom of the page). Currently, there are 32 projects listed.

If you require advice or assistance in relation to preparing an application for an exemption, please contact John O’Kane or Ben Cotter.

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