As a residential builder, a small business owner and someone who needs to support a young family, it is definitely very tough when your industry is closed down for two weeks (or more). The income tap stops, the jobs stop, you need to stand down your employees and you finally stop for a second, take a breath and get a chance to look around.
The Victorian construction shutdown is not the cause of thugs filling the streets in a violent rampage, nor do I condone this erratic, selfish behaviour either. It’s not the Premier’s fault. It’s not Brett Sutton’s fault.
The building industry and all that are connected to it did this to themselves by showing 73% of building sites inspected were non-compliant, compared to 19% in other industries.
It saddens me to think that our industry thought they knew better, they were above the law, they were above the science.
As I take my kids for a walk past each building site, I see 90 to 100% of the time there is someone on that site not wearing a mask or not complying and being ignorant and thinking to themselves, “I’m okay, the rules don’t apply to me”.
Start with our front line workers who put their heart and soul on the line every single day; they wear full PPE, gowns, masks, gloves, scrubs and head into the COVID ward and look after critically ill patients. Then there is the police officer who is outside, roaming the streets and protecting our city — mask on — even during unrest (with lots of physical exertion).
We, the building industry, have been so incredibly fortunate to stay open for the past 18 months but we have absolutely taken it for granted.
Yes, I am so glad that I could feed my family and support my employees by providing work for all of them during these times. But when a good mate of mine, George, checked in on me this week to see how I am, I couldn’t believe it! He owns a pub in the CBD, which has been decimated for 18 months, and he’s checking in on me — who has been able to work and survive through these times.
That is when it hit me hardest.
If you are a builder or connected to the building industry in any way, shape or form, please check in with those who have actually been affected for the past 18 months. The hairdresser, the pub, the local gift shop, the entire retail sector in the CBD, the list goes on! These unfortunate people — be it owners, their employees or their suppliers — have all been decimated and somehow the building industry is closed for two weeks and we destroy the city.
I hope the building industry can absolutely understand that we are the lucky ones, not the unfortunate ones. The shutdown sucks, it hurts livelihoods, but when you compare a two-week closure to an 18 month-closure or tight restrictions on many other industries, businesses, employees and their suppliers, two weeks is a god-send.
If we want to open up on October 5, the message is clear — put your mask on, stick to the rules and please stop placing yourselves above every other industry and human. We are all in this together!
This article was first published on LinkedIn.