News from Mick

Speech to the World Plumbers Day Breakfast 2018

March 09, 2018

Hon. Mick de Brenni MP 

Minister for Housing and Public Works, Minister for Sport, Minister for Digital Technology

Speech to the World Plumbers Day Breakfast 2018


Let me begin by acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land on which we are gathered today: the Turrbal and Jagera peoples.

I pay my respects to their Elders past; their Elders of the present day; and also to those Elders emerging who will lead us into the future.

I would also like to acknowledge:

  • Penny Cornah, MPAQ CEO, and STC chair
  • Shannon Fentiman MP, Minister for Employment and Small Business, Minister for Training and Skills Development
  • Michael Hart MP, Member for Burleigh
  • Peter Davidson, international speaker, paramedic and Australian hero
  • Peter Duffy, Queensland State Manager Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia


Being that it’s Queensland Women’s Week, and yesterday was International Women’s Day – I would like to also especially acknowledge the women who are here this morning to celebrate World Plumbing Day with us.

And I would like to pay tribute to the trailblazing women in the plumbing industry.

But I will come back to that in a minute.

First, I want to update you on the very important work that we’ve embarked on together.

I’ve spoken with you many times about security of payment, and I want to thank you for your messages of support as we passed the Building Industry Fairness Bill late last year.

Project Bank Accounts now apply to government construction projects between $1 and $10 million.

The next step, which is coming in July, will be to implement reforms to the Building and Construction Industry Payments Act, and the Subcontractors Charges Act.

The first order of business for me when Parliament resumed this year was to reintroduce the Plumbing and Drainage Bill to Parliament on 15 February.

The Bill proposes a streamlined regulatory framework that reduces red tape and ensures all Queensland-specific technical requirements are in the Queensland Plumbing and Wastewater Code.

It also proposes a new mechanical licence class to help protect health and safety in high risk buildings, and regulate the installation of medical gas.

That legislation is now with the Committee for review, and public consultation is open until Monday 12 March.

There is much more work to be done, and I will continue – with your support – to implement all the reforms of the Building Industry Fairness Act.

As I said earlier, it’s Queensland Women’s Week, and this morning we’re also gathered here to celebrate World Plumbing Day.

Plumbing has been around for a long time.

Quite a long time, actually - some pretty elaborate bathrooms were built with copper piping in Ancient Egypt, around 4,500 years ago.

A lot has changed in 4,500 years.

But unfortunately, not as much has changed as we’d hoped.

And I’m not talking about the use of copper pipes.

Speaking about this year’s International Women’s Day, UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres said:

“Achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls is the unfinished business of our time, and the greatest human rights challenge in our world.”

The plumbing industry as a whole, and especially the women of the plumbing industry, are instrumental in securing, supporting and defending human rights for Queenslanders.

I believe the first and most fundamental right for every person, is the right to a standard of living that supports health and wellbeing.

And the plumbing industry is key to this.

While plumbing rarely grabs the headlines, there aren’t too many systems or technologies that can compete with plumbing for sheer impact on safeguarding the health and safety of our society.

And I want to acknowledge your work this morning, and thank you all for keeping Queenslanders safe and healthy.

But I would also like to acknowledge the particular work that women in the building and construction industry, and especially the plumbing industry, have done and continue to do in the quest for gender equality.

Trade jobs are decent, quality jobs.

They’re jobs that we will always need – I have often said, you don’t truly understand the how important plumbers are until you need one in a hurry.

And trade jobs are jobs that are meaningful work, where you can go home at the end of the day knowing that you’ve accomplished something real to make Queenslanders’ lives better.

It’s a Labor principle that Queenslanders should all have access to secure, decent, quality jobs.

So it’s only right that the industry should make space for women to pick up tools and forge a career.

Although we have made great strides toward equality in the workplace, the building and construction industry is still a tough place for women to break into, for many different reasons.

What I see in this industry though is really concerted, focused work to make trade jobs accessible to women.

You have a fantastic role model here in Penny.

But what you also have is a concrete, quantifiable commitment to increasing the number of women entering frontline roles, to raise the overall percentage from 6% to 11%.

To make change you need targets like these, which is why Labor made a decision many years ago that we need more women in Parliament.

We set targets, we reflected those in our rules – and here we are.

Queensland’s Cabinet is half women, and we’re led by a Premier and Deputy Premier who are women.

I have said this before, but I want to reiterate today:

I am committed to doing everything I can to assist your industry to increase the percentage of women in frontline roles from 6% to 11% on government projects.

Last year I announced my intention to work with the Minister for Women and our Chief Procurement Officer in order to support this goal, through our Buy Queensland procurement strategy.

When we spend government money, we use both price and non-price criteria to determine how we spend it.

Because with every dollar government spends, we have an opportunity to build local jobs, create communities, and to reduce inequality.

And that can and should also apply to achieving gender equality.

11% is the first target – but it’s an important step toward parity.

Along with frontline roles, we need more women in leadership positions.

Making space for women in frontline roles is a critical first step.

We often talk about career progression as ‘climbing up the ladder’, but it’s not a ladder at all – it’s a pyramid.

And the larger the base of the pyramid, the higher it can go.

So getting women into frontline roles is an important step toward supporting women to rise to the heights of leadership.

But along with this, just like Labor sets targets to get more women into Parliament – we need targets to encourage women into leadership positions.

And that’s why the Palaszczuk Government has a commitment to having 50% women on boards by 2020.

We’ve seen the figures – we know that by simply reaching gender parity on Queensland boards and committees, we can expect to see as much as $87 million in productivity gains.

That’s without employing more workers, or working more hours.

So I’d like to make sure everyone here is aware that we’re currently looking for 4 new referees for the Development Tribunals – formerly known as the Building and Development Dispute Resolution Committee.

I know there are both men and women in this room today who have the skills, the experience, and the temperament to adjudicate industry disputes.

And it’s critical that the plumbing industry is well represented, so that the Tribunal can provide considered responses to complaints related to the Plumbing and Drainage Act.

I look forward to seeing applications from the plumbing industry, and I also look forward to continuing to work collaboratively with the plumbing industry over this term of government, as we did over the previous term.