The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission today issued final decisions granting authorisation* to schemes which aim to help alleviate the current shortage of skilled bricklayers in Australia.
The Clay Brick and Paver Institute (CBPI) and the Concrete Masonry Association of Australia (CMAA) applied to the ACCC to be able to impose small levies** on products manufactured by them and sold in the states of New South Wales, South Australia, Western Australia, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory. Similarly, the Victorian Brick and Blocklaying Training Foundation Ltd (VBBTF) and the Clay Brick and Paver Association of Victoria (CBPAV) have applied to the ACCC to continue to operate a similar scheme in Victoria, with an increase in the levies currently applied in that state.***
"Money raised by the levies will be used to fund apprentice bricklayer training schemes, which are aimed at reducing current skilled bricklayer shortages", ACCC Chairman, Mr Graeme Samuel, said today. "The ACCC accepts that there are benefits in allowing levies to be implemented that aim to increase bricklayer numbers.
"The current national shortage in the number of skilled bricklayers in the building and construction industry is widely recognised. An increase in bricklayer numbers is likely to have positive flow-on effects for consumers, such as reducing construction times and costs and improving quality of workmanship.
"The CBPI and CMAA have based their scheme on a similar program that is currently operating successfully in NSW and which was first authorised by the ACCC in 1999. At present, approximately 165 bricklayer apprentices are employed and trained under the NSW scheme.
"The Victorian scheme was originally authorised by the ACCC in 2000. However, due to delays in its implementation it only began operating in July last year. Similarly to the current NSW scheme, the ACCC anticipates that the Victorian scheme will provide for greater numbers of apprentice bricklayers to be trained than is currently the case.
"The ACCC considers that given the size of the levies, the resultant increase in the cost of building to consumers will be minimal".
With respect to the CBPI/CMAA arrangements, the ACCC received concerns over the potential for the distribution of levy funds to disadvantage existing providers of group training schemes. The ACCC has authorised the arrangements initially for 12 months to allow for early review of the mechanisms for distribution of the levy funds and the success of the scheme.
Copies of the final determinations will be available from the ACCC website by the 10th November 2004.
*The Trade Practices Act 1974 prohibits certain forms of anti-competitive agreements including agreements between competitors which limit their ability to deal with who they choose or on the terms they choose (including price). Authorisation provides immunity from court action under the Act arising from certain anti-competitive agreements. Authorisation can only be granted where the ACCC is satisfied that the public benefit arising from the conduct outweighs any competitive detriment.
**The levies imposed will be $2.00 per thousand bricks and 10c per square metre of concrete masonry blocks sold in NSW, QLD, SA, WA and the ACT. The levies will be matched by voluntary industry contributions.
***The existing levies in Victoria are $1.00 per thousand clay bricks and 5c per square metre of concrete blocks sold. It is proposed that the levy on clay bricks be increased to $2.00 per thousand bricks and the levy on concrete block be increased to 10c per square metre. These levies are matched by voluntary industry contributions.
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