ACT News


Gower to chair MBA review of safety recommendations

Canberra's peak building body has appointed the former director of the Australian War Memorial to chair its own review of the ACT government's report on work safety.

Major-General Steve Gower will lead the Master Builders Association's examination of the 28 recommendations in the report, including the five recommendations the MBA has specifically been asked to respond to in order to improve the safety of territory construction sites.

The appointment comes just over a week after the MBA lashed out at the CFMEU, alleging the building union had ulterior motives for raising safety issues on the city's sites.

MBA ACT executive director John Miller said the new working group would also analyse the organisation's own operations and services to the industry as they related to safety.

Other members of the working group include safety culture expert Rob Long, who played a major part in the Beaconsfield mine rescue in Tasmania, and the University of Canberra's head of building and construction management course, Patrick Zou.

''Major-General Gower graduated from university with first-class honours in engineering, and in his time as director of the Australian War Memorial was ultimately responsible for the delivery of a succession of major construction projects worth many millions of dollars,'' Mr Miller said. ''We believe he is extremely well placed with his engineering background and recent involvement with construction sites to guide our working group.''


The inquiry into health and safety laws on ACT building sites found the ACT had the worst record for construction site safety in Australia with one in every 40 workers expected to sustain a serious injury on the job each year. The territory's rate of serious injury was nearly double the national average.

The report asked the MBA to help address concerns about an undue focus on paperwork instead of practical safety measures and to investigate the development of a cadetship program for construction site managers.

After the MBA's brief truce with the CFMEU in the wake of the report, the two groups were at loggerheads again a little over a week ago following a series of safety incidents and shutdowns of ACT building sites. But Mr Miller said on Tuesday the MBA remained ''committed'' to working with all industry stakeholders to implement the report's recommendations, and its working group showed it was taking the report seriously.

''We look forward to other major stakeholders being involved in making a positive commitment to work together to ensure that we are at the leading edge in delivering safe outcomes on local building and construction sites,'' he said.