Infrastructure-focused Budget offers plenty for the HVAC&R industry, says AIRAH
A 2017–18 Federal Budget predicated on
infrastructure spending and skills growth offers considerable value for
the HVAC&R industry, according to the Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heating (AIRAH).
AIRAH Chief Executive Tony Gleeson, M.AIRAH, says the
government’s plan to spend $75 billion on key infrastructure projects
over 10 years offers plenty for Australia in general, and the HVAC&R
industry in particular.
“A Budget focused on rail, road and airport spending is
obviously a boon for the construction sector, and for trade
opportunities,” Gleeson says. “As an integral component of the
industries that assemble our built environment and also provides health
and comfort, the HVAC&R industry will benefit too.
“And with the establishment of the Skilling Australians
Fund, the HVAC&R trade sector is getting quite a leg-up, which we
tentatively support while we await more detail. The Industry Specialist
Mentoring for Australian Apprentices program, which has had $60 million
set aside for it, is another excellent initiative.”
In place of the now scrapped 457 visa for foreign workers,
the government plans to create a new temporary skills shortage visa that
has stricter conditions. Employers wishing to hire foreign workers
through the new visa will be required to make contributions to the new
Gleeson says the government’s $1 billion National Housing
Infrastructure Facility to remove impediments to developing new homes is
one of a number of positive elements included in the Budget.
Another was the establishment of a $10 billion National Rail
Program to create better connectivity and productivity.
“We also applaud the directive for researchers to engage
more closely with industry than has occurred in the past,” Gleeson says.
“Indeed, we are already seeing this happen, where academics have come
down from their ivory towers and actively engaging with industry and
with AIRAH itself to kick-start some fantastic initiatives. This will
help Australia build skills and capability for the jobs and industries
of the future.”
Gleeson says it’s disappointing that, pending various policy
reviews that are in progress, the Federal Budget appears to defer new
funding for policy responding to climate change.
As participants in some of those reviews, AIRAH will
continue to voice the view that it’s important to reduce Australia’s
greenhouse gas emissions via the adoption of appropriate refrigerants,
and through resilient design.
“Although there are some very admirable elements in the
2017–18 Federal Budget, the Institute will continue to talk to those in
power about those things important to us and our members,” Gleeson says.
“We will continue to be the leading independent voice for
our industry on resilience, sustainability, compliance, innovation, and
the transition to low-GWP refrigerants.”
For more information about AIRAH’s advocacy positions, go to www.airah.org.au/advocacy