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When you buy or renovate your home or business, you deserve high quality work. You deserve to know that your balcony won’t crack, that your ceilings won’t sag, and your bathroom won’t leak. You deserve to live and work in buildings constructed by tradespeople who know what they’re doing.


However, in the ACT, you currently have no way of knowing what kind of work you’ll get. Trades including carpenters, joiners, glaziers, bricklayers, painters, plasterers, tilers and waterproofers can all operate in Canberra without any kind of license.


That’s not just bad for you, it’s also devastating for the skilled tradespeople and reputable companies attempting to produce robust, quality work, who are being driven out of the market by cheap, unqualified competitors.


A coalition of unions and businesses in the ACT are calling for an end to this race to the bottom – it’s time to license building trades.

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CFMEU ACT Secretary Zach Smith and 

Jesse Ahern from CTR Pacific

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Over the past decade, the ACT has experienced a construction boom; at the same time it has experienced a boom in the number of complaints about build quality. Small defects in important parts of the building process can result in buildings unsuitable for purpose.

For example, water damage is one of the most common complaints to ACT’s Fair Trading unit. In many, if not most cases, the culprit is not the plumbing – it is the waterproofing and tiling. A brief glance through the archives of the Canberra Times reveals a litany of failure in cases ranging from the AIS and Gungahlin pools, to the Belle apartments in Bruce and a range of other units in Gungahlin.

Waterproofing is a complicated, exacting and highly specialised trade, in which even the slightest error can lead to an unseen leak that - over time - can damage, or even destroy, a structure. After that’s done, the tiling performed over the top of the waterproofing layer must be performed carefully and to a high standard to avoid puncturing the waterproofing layer.

In the ACT right now, all you need to be a waterproofer is self-confidence and resin; while a tiler is defined as whoever picks up a trowel that day. No wonder we’re in such a mess.

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CFMEU ACT Secretary Zach Smith met with several ACT builders to discuss and sign a letter addressed to the ACT Minister for Sustainable Building and Construction, Rebecca Vassarotti.

The letter outlines our calls for trade licensing as well as a list of proposed trades to be licensed.  

"A licensing scheme will give Canberrans peace of mind that "skilled and experienced" tradespeople are working on job sites."

CFMEU ACT Secretary Zach Smith

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Authorised by Zach Smith, Secretary, CFMEU ACT


8 Cape St, Dickson ACT 2602

Phone: (02) 6267 1599

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