Message from the Accord steering group co-chairs
Accord Co-chairs Chris Bunny and Peter Reidy share their thoughts about 2020.
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It almost goes without saying that 2020 has posed unprecedented challenges for New Zealand and our construction industry. The economic, physical and mental health impacts of COVID-19 have been significant. They have exacerbated some of the persistent challenges the sector is seeking to address, including a lack of business resilience, poor business and procurement practices and an adversarial culture.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the importance of the Construction Sector Accord. Prior to the Accord's formation there was no one forum that joined government and the sector in charting a clear and shared vision for the future. During Alert Level 4, this might have meant competition and retrenchment to protect self-interests, or policy decisions and support packages not being tested with industry. This, surely, would have meant worse outcomes from COVID-19 for all parties.
Fortunately, we do have the Accord. From the moment government announced a move to Alert level 4, the Accord acted as platform for leadership and collaboration between government and industry. It aimed to protect and support the sector and its workers. It's a great example of the good that can happen when industry and government come together for a shared cause.
Immediate response to COVID-19
The Accord Steering Group quickly formed the COVID-19 Forum, which brought together experts from across government and industry to inform the recovery and develop the Construction Sector COVID-19 Response Plan. We partnered to develop health and safety protocols that enabled the sector to get back to work under Alert Levels 2 and 3. We provided information and advice to government so that support initiatives like the Wage Subsidy and Apprenticeship Boost package took industry needs into account. We also issued contract variation guidance that set up a consistent government position for contractors facing additional costs created by the lockdown – which enabled workers to keep getting paid and businesses to remain viable throughout lockdown.
The immediate response to COVID-19 was a make-or-break moment for the Accord. It gave us the opportunity to truly prove our value – and we believe we have. As the Accord Co-chairs, we would like to tautoko each and every person that played a part in helping support the industry. Thank you.
Transforming the construction sector for the better
The Accord has also driven impressive progress that is transforming the construction sector for the better. The Transformation Plan, launched in early 2020, has been expanded to include new initiatives, such as the Environment workstream. Several pieces of legislation that have been informed by the Accord, including amendments to the Building Act 2004 and the Construction Contracts Act 2002, are progressing through the House. The Accord also rallied industry support around the Construction Skills Action Plan. In the wake of COVID-19, we agreed to adapt our focus to what was most needed to support recovery. We launched the Rapid Mobilisation Playbook to support agencies to procure construction work speedily and safely. This tool will help support New Zealand's economic and social recovery, and has already been downloaded over one thousand times. We also launched the Contract Partnering Agreement, which sets out how parties can work together to follow Accord principles and contribute to Accord outcomes. This was released to set the groundwork for greater collaboration between contractual parties.
This is just some of the work that can happen when government and industry come together to support New Zealand's economic and social recovery.
We can be proud of what we have achieved – but this is just the start. The Accord continues to attract interest from across the construction sector. Over one thousand people and businesses have signed up on the Accord website to get involved in sector transformation, and hundreds of sector participants attend regular Accord webinars. The rapidly-growing Accord network shows the appetite for the kind of change we're driving. Government has signalled its strong support for the Construction Sector Accord's work to maintain construction momentum and respond to the impacts of COVID-19. As government and agencies will continue driving an ambitious construction and infrastructure programme, our role in supporting a collaborative, high-performing sector will be crucial.
We can help ensure the sector is ready to meet government's ambitious plan. We look forward to working with our network in the coming year and continuing to transform the construction sector for the benefit of Aotearoa.
Peter Reidy(external link) (Co-chair)
Chris Bunny(external link) (Co-chair)