Victorian Plumbers United

VPU doesnt let your trade go down the drain

Welcome to VPU, the only independent non profit alliance which keeps all Victorian plumbers informed!

2018 Pre State Election Meeting

11am 3rd of October 2018

at the

Emerald Hill Hotel , 415 Clarendon St South Melbourne

We need your help this Wednesday! 


As we approach the coming state election we have been working hard with BIRG (Building Industry Reform Group). BIRG is made up of all the building industry trades & acts as a single voice to engage our government building industry bureaucrats. 
As we have seen government and our regulators a re very proficient in dividing & fragmenting our industry concerns & many regulatory issues we raise. We continually endure executive staffing changes to the Victorian Building Authority with none of the original executive still in place today. The merry go round continues & Richard Wynne still refuse to meet with any of the industry groups. Yes we have heard it all before! Wednesday we can bring some focus on our Building industry regulatory issues we all are suffering under.

Recently we have had made some real head way in the Victorian Parliament with crossbench members of parliament voting in the building amendment bill despite the major parties lack of support.  This gives us some hope we can bring some real change at this election.
We want an undertaking from both major parties we will get a single minister for the building industry. The building industry generates 25% of state revenue and does not even rate a mention in the tiers of the current government planning ministry. The VBA remains completely unaccountable & places unfair regulatory burden on all building practioners.
Given we will see the new Victorian Building and Plumbing regulations go through parliament shortly with no real stakeholder engagement we have one last chance for our voices to be heard or suffer for the next 10 years.
We have 3 members of parliament attending our Pre State election meeting this Wednesday 11am at the Emerald Hill Hotel . Come join us we need support and hear exactly what is going on in our Building industry landscape. (see attached invitation) All welcome light lunch provided. 
We have an opportunity to expose & make change at this coming election. (See attached agenda)  

  Unless we make the effort expect more of the same!!!.  No RSVP required




September Update 2016

The Building Industry Reform Group continue to grow public awareness

The minister letter of expectation





August  2016 Newsletter Update  

VPU has joined forces with key industry stakeholders

Building Industry Reform Group-- BIRG

See link below for one of the first articles

Archive Jan 2015

Welcome to another update on what is or isn’t happening in the Victorian Plumbing Industry. 

We hope everyone had an enjoyable festive season and Santa delivered. Another disappointing year has passed and many promises broken again whilst our industry spirals further into decline.

On a positive note VPU now can boast 3673 members on our mail out. This makes us the biggest collective in the Victorian plumbing industry & growing every day.  We are still a nonprofit free organization run by passionate licensed plumbers who have all had enough. We express main stream views without fear or favour we purely want  to have a sustainable working life as plumbers.

We once again thank all our valuable contributors who have kept us informed from both within the walls of our regulators and from the field.

The buck passing hasn’t stopped from our regulators & government, along with more appointments of personal to key positions with no technical background or experience in plumbing. It would seem if you have justice experience from law enforcement or legal background you are suited to tell us what we plumbers should be doing.  Hence we bumble into 2015 with little hope of any change unless the new Labor government starts listening to the 27,000 registered plumbers,  rather than the revenue hungry so called industry key stake holders who have steered us into this decline over the last 2 decades.

Those key stake holders are the Master Plumbers who now have less than 700 members due to not embracing or engaging with their membership & continue to allow crap policy and regulatory changes to occur. The plumbers union who are run by the sprinkler fitters who have under 100 licensed sprinkler fitters in Victoria & will say yes to anything that guarantees their revenue streams for button up boot training programs. They have little interest in the domestic side of plumbing but continue to allow all of us to languish due to their rubber stamping.

These industry trade groups “stake holders” occupy what plumbing advisory groups that still has seats that haven’t been taken by government Bureaucrat’s. Government will continue to use these groups as safe havens to rubber stamp poor policy and continue to ignore the remaining 26000 plumbers who are neither engaged or surveyed on shaping our industries future.

 If anyone of these individual plumbers dare to raise their head and question policy or raise issues they are immediately passed off or character assassinated to prevent a very nervous regulators being exposed.   The “us against them” mentality still exists along with many cover ups and secret trajectories we continue to have sprung on our industry.  

With so many ex-cops now working for the regulators, we wait for them start handing out on the spot fines with the mooted 3 year demerit system.  The recent hot water unit explosion clearly demonstrates how far we have declined when 2 ex cops carry out the investigation of the incident with 2 weeks training on gasfitting. I am sure they have the skill sets to protect all Victorians from gas incidents.   (see our home page for more on that)

An easy way to see what is going on within our plumbing industry is the recent changes to the PIC website which has disappeared and been taken over to the VBA website. Try and work out who is running plumbing let alone the annual report now shows all our revenue is now clumped in with the builders.

So if you want some info on who to speak to from the VBA website or who is accountable – goodluck!!!

Plumbing Advisory Board

A good example is our Victorian Plumbing advisory council which has members appointed by the transport minister (new government seems to be the Planning minister as per annual report).  When VPU asked the VBA who was on this council they had no idea. It has neither a website nor a contact listing.

We do know that Ken Gardner holds the chair. How you get anything raised or submitted isn’t clear along with any transparency of what agendas it has. Hence we continue to be excluded from any dialogue with government.  Hardly a democracy, more a dictatorship, reminiscent of a Bjelke Petersen era.  Recent complaints raised with this council regarding anti-competitive behavior from metro water boards running internal plumbing businesses, along with setting unfair spotters fees for sewer blockages. This was quickly passed over before they set new pricing models for these fees. The fees have not kept pace with CPI since 2004. Water boards continue to cherry pick traditional small plumbing firm’s customer base along with not investing in any apprenticeships.

More info here – page 69 - Looks like they have only met on 1 occasion this year!

Plumbing Advisory Council

The Plumbing Advisory Council (PAC) is an independent statutory body established under section 221 of the

Building Act and provides advice about the plumbing industry to the Minister for Planning and the VBA. The PAC

is supported by DTPLI and the VBA and members are appointed by the Minister for Planning.

Meeting attendance 2013-14

Member name Term of appointment Attended


possible 21

Prue Digby 30 June 2013 – 20 November 2013     VBA

Brian Welch 20 February 2014 – 30 June 2016   From the MBA

Nick Chiam 23 June 2011 – 20 June 2014 0 3    Skills Victoria

Douglas McClusky 22 October 2013 – 30 June 2015   Plumbers union – thought to be retired

Stephen Atherton 7 November 2012 – 6 November 2015  Master Plumbers

Sumit Oberoi 19 December 2013 – 30 June 2015      Air conditioning

Brenden Day 1 November 2012 – 31 October 2015    Master Plumbers

Carmel Coate 1 November 2012 – 31 October 2015     PICAC

Earl Setches 22 October 2013 – 30 June 2015            Plumbers Union

Kenneth Gardner (Chair) 6 September 2012 – 5 September 2015    Master plumbers

Patrick McCrudden 19 December 2012 – 18 December 2015       Plumbers union

Paul Bonsak 19 December 2012 – 18 December 2015      ESV

Sam Austin 22 October 2013 – 30 June 2015     Yarra Valley Water


21. Not including one extraordinary meeting, held on 15 August 2014.

22. Resigned from PAC (prior to any PAC 2013-14 meetings) on 20 November 2013 and appointed as CEO from 25 November 2013.

The cost small Victorian plumbing businesses have paid over the last 2 decades is very clear with more and more wise old heads leaving the industry frustrated their life’s work invested in plumbing has been wasted. This drain down of invaluable experience is a massive loss and the consequences have knock on effect to future plumbing generations which can never be recovered.

As far as training goes recent media reveals RTO’s are being paid by government for enrolments not outcomes & continue to show little interest in the skill level being delivered along with completion rates. Most of the organizations involved in training are confronted when an old fashioned employer enquires about an apprentice’s progress along with asking about their strength or weaknesses.

Recent call to a Tafe

 I was ringing up to speak to the plumbing department about how my apprentice is going at school,  I have heard nothing & not received any reports---

Who are you? Why do you want to know that for? You are one of the few mate we haven’t been asked that for years! Sorry we just aren’t set up for that we only have the computer system that gives us  --NA(not attempted) or SA (satisfactory completed). You realize its self-paced learning & competency tested only.  Why don’t you just use the apprentices out of the group training pool? Anyway none of the plumbing teachers are here at the moment ring back later. 

Can I get a return phone call from one of them ------------- clunk

This example is wide spread complaint from those of us who still invest in our industry by employing apprentices and get very little support in the way of government incentives. If government could possible get rid of the hangers on who are plundering the commodity of training and support the incentives for plumbing apprentice employers. More small plumbing firms would take them on directly with their business. This would deliver a plumber with much higher skillsets than a group training pool apprentice who has been through the ringer & purely treated as a commodity & revenue stream for someone. 

The recent annual report from the plumbing advisory council showed the chair taken by Skills Victoria (Nick Chiam) was occupied on zero occasions for the 12 months the council sat.  Need why ask why it’s such a mess.


So in closing VPU will endeavor in 2015 to engage the new Labor government & inform everyone as to what is happening in the murky corridors of our plumbing industry, along with trying to give all of us a viable plumbing future.

We are currently lobbying the new government to survey all plumbers in Victoria via a balanced questionnaire to illustrate how we all feel and once and for all hopefully provide a proper plumbing industry landscape. Imagine that they actually ask us about our thoughts!!!!!!

It is so important to provide an ongoing perspective from small family plumbing businesses that are slowly declining under the weight of so much blundering which has occurred over the past decade.

Please help us by participating in our forums online and pass the word about VPU.  You can see on our homepage by reading our archived newsletters our predications have come true and forced change.

Together we all can make a difference!!!!

Until next time we hope that big job comes your way!!!!




Another example of our regulators at work from ESV. A classic case of why employing ex cops as gas inspectors with no background in gas is risky.

David Witenden  (ex cop) from ESV so called lead investigator misses the opportunity on national television to inform the general public its actually illegal to install or repair your own hot water unit.   It was only luck this incident didn't cause a fatality and the news item is riddled with misinformation. At one point a witness laughs and say next time the owner should do a better job.

David Witenden is the same clown who blocked an FOI in regards 2 serious gas incidents that have recently occurred. We can see why he did as it may expose the skill sets currently being used by ESV in their investigations.

In the news item the reporter makes mention the units are design to self extinguish!!!             Lucky the hot water unit self extinguished whilst it was 200 metres in the air or it may have made it to the moon David. - ROFL!!!!!!!!

Wonder if we will ever find out why the thermostat failed, The over heat cut out on the pilot failed and the PTR failed or will they cover up again. Wonder if there is anyone left in ESV that know what these are!!.

Maybe as some have done the PICAC gas course of 8 nights. We will see if a gas incident report gets released  to the public about the hot water explosion but doubt it will happen. A few of the DIY outlets may have to revise their install pamphlets for their handymen!!!

One other example ESV have had two CO testers brands give to them for testing as they where faulty and unreliable out of the box. These have been widely sold through out major plumbing retailers. After numerous complaints we tested them and found they where faulty straight of the box and exposed both Licensed gasfitters and customers to higher risk due to their performance.

 2 years on ESV have still not tested 2 new CO detector units which where provided to them free of charge. ESV did nothing to put out a recall or safety advisory, once again demonstrating the recklessness existing within ESV.  Its worth noting they quickly sent out a warning on a particular brand which did work correctly warning about testing in the heat stream of a heater. Maybe Paul Bonsak should look at his priorities & stop protecting the gas manufacturers & retailers and start doing what his paid for - protecting Victorian consumers.  Then again what would we know!

We also will be reporting on the recent coroners report on Mooroopna which was released last year. The depositions from ESV make very interesting reading and highlight once again the lack of technical knowledge and the misinformation that exists. 

Hence we have knee jerk policies/strategies and revised regulations which illustrate why our industry continues to spiral downward.


Update 29/5/14


The recent media release from the VBA “Costly lesson in building fire safety” illustrates the new building industry regulatory system is in real strife.


Link to official press release - Media Release

So the innocent 55 purchasers of a recently constructed 55 apartment complex in Noble Park get landed with a $500,000 rectification order. The building is still within the warranty period along with many other assurances that should be in place to protect consumers. Buyers beware media release! Please explain the difference between having a VBA and not having a VBA.  In this case none!

The promises made from government for building regulatory reform via the KPMG model after the Attorney Generals enquiry have not been realized. The media release demonstrates the complete lack of understanding the VBA has of what Victorians expect from our building industry regulator.

After a multitude of commissioners, reshuffles, Nol’s and restructuring we find our building industry regulatory fabric eroded to the core. Undermining any basic consumer protection confidence in any building purchase they make in Victoria. The VBA is placing all property purchasers at huge risk of financial loss with this latest press release.

The statement from the VBA from the above media release-

 “This acts as a reminder about the importance of doing your homework when purchasing a property. If you are thinking of buying a house or a building, you should consider arranging a professional inspection to make sure it is safe and meets the building regulations before you buy.”

 So let’s see how our new VBA has protected Victorians and maintained building standards in Victoria using this case as an example.

 A developer would need to at least do the following from the concept stage-

 1. Engage an Architect/ draftsmen – carries professional indemnity insurance

 2. Engineering to embracing the building code of Australia which incorporates the fire protection. – carries professional indemnity insurances

 3. Apply for planning from local council who makes sure the development meets all the codes before gaining approval including the ability of the proposal to be fire protection compliant.

 4. Building permits from local council building department who makes sure the design and engineering meets with all the relevant building codes.

 5. Before works commences a building surveyor will demand appropriate construction methods and carry out appropriate inspections through the building phase. – Carries public liability and professional indemnity insurance.

 6. Registered Builder and trade practioners also have duty of care to that the Building code is met. All must carry warranty insurance

 7. At completion the building will require a certificate of occupancy. To obtain this and meet the building code of Australia the building will need to meet the fire protection regulations and local bylaws. This would require inspections from fire protection officers from council/Building surveyor/ MFB/CFA and local water board via PIC Certificate of compliance. For the C of O to be issued, multiple statutory bodies have failed in their duty of care.

 8. Prior to a new owner purchasing one of the 55 apartments a real estate agent would need use duty of care that the property is fit for sale via a section 32. Also carries professional indemnity insurance.

  9.  Conveyancing and solicitor needs to examine all certificates and relevant permits in place prior to transfer of title - Also carries insurance’s.

 10. The VBA fails to protect the 55 consumers or action the many options to prevent the remedial repair cost being past onto the new owners. Also appears not to be any prosecution to any of the building practioners who oversaw the construction or the developer.

So in brief we have university trained and accredited licensed personal throughout the construction of the dwelling all monitored licensed and accredited via the Victorian government building regulatory regime- VBA.  We then have further consumer protection via statutory legal requirements in the transfer and sale of land/property.  The comment that the building surveyor is now not registered should be completely irrelevant as he must have had insurance at the time of carrying out his duties and signing the development off.

 The previous months VBA newsletter made comments that plumbers needed to check with insurers if the retirement saving where safe by maintaining run out insurance for 6 years. VBA Newsletter April   This has massive implications and a shift in policy as run out insurance has never been required as the insurer is underwriting the work for 6 years. Hence the VBA clearly isn’t enforcing this policy in this case. It would appear the new VMIA has moved the goal posts along with removing past insurance underwriter liabilities on completed projects.  

 All of the above in this case have failed and we have our new VBA outrageously spruiking via a media release they have protected Victorians. The poor old new apartment owner gets a nice little $9000 bill each for their troubles. I am sure the insurance underwriters of the 20 + forms of insurance in the build process are celebrating they have been protected by the gate keeper the VBA!

 From VPU’s position we have had many issues arise and watched the dilapidation of our industry over the last 15 years, but this takes the cake! How can anyone continue with confidence in the building industry whilst we have a disorderly rabble of regulatory bodies run by pen pushers?

 Please anyone in government wake up and use some common sense, it is another model completely flawed run by public servants with very little idea of what they are doing. There are many passionate people who have been in our industry for many years who can help overcome the many shortfalls. Government needs to stop referring/listening to so called key stake holders who have proven to be only concerned in securing revenue schemes for their trade bodies

Phil Dwyer has tirelessly campaigned via the builder’s collective (nonprofit organization) for change and consumer protection. Why he hasn’t been appointed to help steer our industry out of this hole is contemptuous in itself.

  The building industry has been assured this latest overhaul would bring a brighter future and clearly it is anything but. With the coming election we call on all our members to raise your concerns with your local MP’s. A quick email or copy and paste our newsletters to them will at least put the issue on their desk.

 Keep up the fight! - VPU 


15/3/13 Archive

Well it just goes on & on!

We now have a Building & Plumbing Industry Commission made up of Government pencil pushers who have no background in any of our trades.

Will the brilliant minds who butchered our industry for the last 2 decades stand up & say we got it all wrong on so many levels. Ironically one of them still sits on the board of NOLA which is about to inflict another flawed model of national licensing on all of us. The Ris found 98% of victorian tadies dont want it but it still moves forward.

Basically we feel the money grabs must have just about finished and the trough is virtually empty, otherwise we would have a so called key stake holder in the chair rather than a public servant type. Maybe the industry cartel have plans for the new board & are lining up is some back office like ducks waitng for the free range feeding frenzyof our trades.

Once again the poor old legitmate Licensed Builder & Plumber who have had to endure this debacle for to long must stay calm & carry on!  

Let’s see if we can get the clowns to get back to regulating rather than trying to be cost neutral & profiteering from an industry which has suffered enough. The unseen cost of the damage which has occurred due to defective works, far out ways any savings self regulation has brought.

Consumers also have suffered from a completely flawed system dictated to by commercially driven insurance companies whose reputations make a Taliban soldier look good.

The current regulators/commissions have been the gate keepers of the thousands of claims & complaints, as we know very few have been successful along with very few practioner’s being brought to account.  

The part government doesn’t get, is we want good regulation & get rid of the cowboys & cherry pickers who have plundered our industry.

Consumers have been allowed to have dodgy builders rip them off again & again with very little penalties for the perpetrators. Due to the lack of intervention form the pathetic commissions consumers are drive to VCAT which is a joke with per party costs system with litigators really only getting back what was theirs anyway with massive legal costs to deduct.  Hence many drop off & dont show up on the building stats which are completly flawed.

The new interim commissioner Greg Hyams must have felt like the last bunny on the shelf. No doubt we will get another six months of sitting on hands & pretending all is well!


Speak out or suffer!!!!!!


1/2/13 Archive

When will it stop!!

 Well we all thought Kefford might be able to right some wrongs – WRONG!

More of the same plundering whilst we all suffer in our trade. We were criticized for not congratulating Kefford in our previous newsletter. Now you know why!


Once again the transparency & clear communication we have craved for has been abused by greedy egotistical industry fringe dwellers. When will they get a real plumber who actually has worked on the tools & stop bullshitting all of us with these self loathing fools.

When will it stop! Shame Shame Shame!!

  14/01/13 update




Well Christmas was kind but the Federal governement is still asleep at the wheel  

Tony Arnells still holds his seat on the NOLA board. If you have read the recent ombudsman's report below it beggers belief how he could continue his tenure or how NOLA could have any credibility the longer he continues to participate on it. Senator Evans must have been alerted to the recent Victorian report & is thumbing his nose to all of us in the plumbing industry. The deafening silence of the Unions & master plumbers cant help but illustrate how rife & deep the jobs for the boys goes.

The fact NOLA cant publish the RIS responces on its website beggers belief. Given over 95% repsonces didnt want National licensing & could see absolutely no merit in it for any of us, may have something to do with it. Very familar glitch, it must have killed NOLA to be forced to engage us plebs in a real survey!!!

With an election year coming up it will need a brilliant spin doctor to get out of this one!!!!

 16/12/12 update


 Well Santa has finally delivered, thanks to the Ombudsmans report which is far reaching & scathing. As you can see from our archives below our many issues now have been recogonised by government. We have all known for many years of the rorting that has been going on & we have now forced change. (link below for full report)

The arrogance of Arnell's era is beyond belief along with the vast damage it has done to our trade. Our regulators have dined out while we all sufferd at the demise of our once proud trade. Cowboys, DIY's & illegitmate plumbers have enjoyed the era as they have been able to plunder our customers & bring all of us under disrepute.

The dodgy so called consumer protection which Arnell's hid behind  was nothing more than a front. The rats are jumping ship left right & centre with some very nervous players wondering when their door bell will be rung. The new regulatory board hopefully will have real people along with transparency.

Mean while Arnell's continues to hold a chair on the National Licensing Board. Surely the penny will drop in Canberra soon!

The ABC have once again illustrated the crap manadatory insurance we are made to pay that protects no one.

 So Merry Christmas & we look forward to more postive devlopments over the break. Many Thanks to Mathew Guy for at least bringing change & our many tireless supporters who never gave up!!


20/5/2012 archive

TONY 2012 


Welcome to another update from the Victorian Plumbers United.

Unless you been under a rock or trying to make a living & keeping the wolves from the door, you may or may not know the new heights our esteemed recently departed dictator Tony Arnell’s has been up to.

Well fortunately for all of us in the building industry us two journalist from the Age have found the issues we have been screaming about are news worthy enough to take the front page of The Age.

Recent Stories run in the Age have seen more examples of the size of Arnell’s ego & complete arrogance of his actions. We see absolutely no remorse or any sign of admission he butchered our once highly regarded industry.

He currently is hold a chair on the National Licensing advisory board (NOLA) which we are demanding his immediate removal due to the many allegations he is under.


The issues we have discussed with in our forum & the many shocking stories over the past years are directly contributed to by this so called man. While we all suffered read what this clown was doing with his ex boss.


Some of the cases we have illustrated in our forums like building surveyors basically collecting money with out even visiting or monitoring building sites. The likes of SPASSA who are nothing but a front for the many dodgy pool builders they so call regulate. The virtual hopelessness of any complaint you make via the regulator.

The cornflake packet licenses/registrations given out under the guise of solving skill shortages.  The list goes on & on.


No doubt the worthless last resort insurance we all have had to endure has help fund Tony’s little schemes. There will be some very nervous players in the wings waiting for the spot light particularly when the insurance commission rebates come out in the public forum the so called industry leaders/entities have been accepting.  The redirection of training funds from the Tafes for worthless Green Plumber Schemes which turned out to be privately owned cash cows.


Lets all demand they clear all the rats out who have plundered & destroyed our building regulatory system in Victoria. The misery & suffering they have placed on all Victorian building consumers & practitioners is infinite & will take many years to rectify. Thankfully it appears the current government isn’t going to brush it under the carpet. Tony refused to turn up at the last parlimentary enquiry even when he was the commssioner. Looks like he may have some assistance to turn up at his next hearing.

We all hope our jails are big enough to cope!

 4/4/2012--- archive




The Age today finaly starts to unravel & expose what we all have known & suffered under for the last 10 years.

Congratulations to the state government for following through on their promises to repair our industry. The work has only begun & expect more rats to start jumping off the sinking ship.

Recent departure of Tony Arnel's was well receive by all. We can only wait to see if any of the above comes back to bite him.
To show that the jobs for the boys is still alive & well he was quickly embraced by his mates at NOLA (national Lic board) & given a position.
Tasmania have refused the NOLA model with Queensland yet to sign on. With the addition of Tony we now are confident it has no hope of flying!!!! What a joke!!!

Stayed Tuned 


Breaking NEWS !!!!!

Arnel resigns!!!!!!!

Mass celebrating in the streets of Victoria is expected today as the news of the resignation of Plumbing & building industries chairman Tony Arnel spreads.

After years of lobbying government by consumers & tradesmen who suffered under the 12 years of disfunctional regulatory regime Arnel's masterminded, they have won!

The Age reported --- "

VICTORIA'S building and plumbing industry commissioner has resigned just weeks after a damning report found the building industry was not properly regulated and minimum standards were not being met.

Tony Arnel's resignation was announced in a government press release last night. Planning Minister Matthew Guy thanked Mr Arnel for his service in the position over 12 years.

The resignation follows Auditor-General Des Pearson's savaging of the Victorian Building Commission, which regulates Victorian construction standards, in his report last month. He found that 96 per cent of 401 building permits audited did not meet basic standards and said the system was marked by confusion and lack of accountability.

Greens MP Greg Barber, who called for Mr Arnel's resignation in the wake of the report, said last night he hoped this would lead to a reform of the building permit system.

Former plumbing commissioner Michael Kefford will replace Mr Arnel in two weeks for a one-year stint while a permanent replacement is sought. " end quote.

Read more:

 We look forward to the changes this will bring & will be applying for a gazzetted day off to celebrate this momentus day!!!


Government repsonce to Carbon Monoxide draft Statergy

Looks like finaly the government have had some decent information on what has been happening at ground level with gas applaince servicing . The responce above gives criticism to the gas regulators who have been asleep at the wheel in regards gas appliance servicing & auditing.

 It also holds the AGA to the light with little regard for gas appliance servicing when issuing AGA acreditation. Service guidelines & tech info for gas techs has been a thing of the past provided by the AGA. This discourages any prospective Gas appliance servcing due to manufacturers not making this info available readily.

A step forward for all in the gas industry let hope the implementation doesnt become watered down.  

4th of August

Federal government release carbon monoxide draft Stratergy

Welcome to our July 2011 update.

As the financial year comes to a close & we reflect on the last 12 months in the plumbing & gas fitting industry.

A new state government took the helm giving us all slim hope for regulatory change & common sense approach for our industry. Sorry to say it has happened, more of the same as it all seems too hard.

The builders collective are maintaining the fight against Tony Arnell’s & his unaccountable regime governing Building & Plumbing. It’s amazing an ex Melbourne city council draftsmen could cause so much damage to our industry. Teflon Tony has refused to appear in front of BWI enquiry held by the Victorian government last year & continues to treat his practioners with complete contempt. It would seem as long as he stays cost neutral to the government his ego will remain unchecked at the cost of all of us & our consumers.

He refuses to address any of the issues we all face day to day in his flawed system which only encourages the black market & continues to lower the skill of our industry across the board.

The master plumbers & plumbers union have only encouraged the regime by taking their pieces of gold with multiple questionable commercial enterprises. How most of these are legal is beyond belief. To obtain accreditation in various specialist classes any plumber now is penalised with higher training fees if you are not part of these dodgy bodies.

 Given their PICAC training centre has taken government funding away from our well established Tafe training centres which aren’t privately owned we believe its extortion.  These bodies have less than 25% membership across our industry & seem to continue to be the privileged few who are plundering our industry into the ground.


Energy Safe Victoria have ridden on the hysteria of the carbon monoxide poisoning to promote themselves & pat them selves on the back. Many who have been petitioning them well before the recent tragic deaths are gob smacked they have taken the higher ground when most hold them directly responsible for lack of regulatory regime for these instances to occur.

ESV continues to bungle their role with impractical co2 testing advisories & lack of input from those of us at ground level in the field.

 The current personnel, who have recently taken over various roles at ESV after a basic mass walk out, are less than impressive with their knowledge & experience in the gas industry.  Our members have sent us many horrifying stories of when they have tried to contact ESV over urgent safety with gas only not be able to find the phone number on their new web site or wait for a call back that never happens. 


The national gas response line has been proven to be a joke with a recent story involving a leak in Toorak road, Melbourne. The gasfitter who reported the major leak was told to secure the area from all ignition sources & a truck would be out within 2 hours. He explained it was mid peak hour & Toorak road was one of Melbourne’s busiest there was no way he could make the area safe by himself. The operator said that was all she could do. He rang the MFB who blocked off the road & made safe, throwing Melbourne traffic into disarray. They waited 3 hours when a boy in a utility from the gas company arrived with a pair of stilsens.  6 hours later the repair trucks arrived & let the MFB leave who had baby sat the leak for 6 hours. The brigade leader wasn’t impressed or Melbourne’s motorist who waited another 12 hours for the road to open!

Another example of our gas industry at work was an older plumber who made a visit to a safety store in Moorabbin to pick up some safety gear. After purchasing some welding PPE & new boots he felt un well with heart palpitations & blurred vision. He explained to the counter staff he needed to go outside for a while as he felt faint. After a brief recovery outside he returned to finish his purchase & noticed the overhead powered gas tube heaters 4 in total. He asked the counter staff has anyone else been feeling sick. She explained that in fact she was filling in for 2 staff who had been off for the last 2 days with headaches. None of the tube heaters had flues fitted & where all pumping co2 into the shop.  He used his co2 monitor he had in the truck 250ppm.

He explained the problem to the manager who said they would turn them off. He dropped in 2 hours later they where still going. He rang the national response number & was told they only handled gas leaks. He left a message on the ESV number & never heard back. He contacted Work Safe & never heard back!!


2 clear examples of the lack of practicality on our gas regulators system which are 3rd world. To read their recent ESV magazine with their self praise beggars belief.

When a licensed professional can not contact the regulator on a serious safety issue something is wrong. ESV’s new web site is clearly designed not to engage with anyone directly. There is very little details on how to contact them directly check for yourself--    Click on the contact at the bottom of the page & you go round in circles.

This also raises other issues with their new web site which clearly demonstrates the lack of intelligence our government regulator has. The latest info sheet on testing for co2 has now with out any consultation with the industry made the cut of level 0ppm. I don’t think any scientist can possibly test for zero which sets a dangerous legal precedence for all of us.

This will make anyone carrying out gas servicing open to possible litigation.

Anyone who has experience in the gas industry will know this info sheet is a joke & completely not practical. We have the AGA putting certification stamps on gas appliances which can spill up to 50ppm. So are we expected to carry around the standard for every gas appliance or just cut off a brand new decorative log fire that someone installed 12 months earlier for around 5k? ESV refuses to discuss this issue & is showing their complete lack of understanding of the industry. This info sheet will only drive out what is left of the gas professionals & further encourage the black market.

The easy solution which all of us have been calling for is mandatory servicing of all appliances every 2 years the same as the UK. Any tenanted property needs to have a certificate to say their gas appliances have been tested & passed. This would address the gas safety issues better than the current legislation currently going through federal parliament for mandatory c02 alarms to be put in every home. These alarms have been proven in the UK to be a last resort measure & deaths have occurred when they have been fitted. The simple logical solution is raising the regulatory regime in mandatory serving of gas appliances. ESV for some reason continue to avoid this stating we don’t have enough techs to do the work. It’s a no brainer if they made the certificates only available between September & March it would help the gas appliance servicing professionals to maintain their work force through the summer months & alleviate the high demand during the winter months. This would encourage investment in apprentices & attract many in our industry back to the gas servicing. So ESV have a great opportunity for once to support all of us with  a positive outcome for all of us who have invested so much in our industry. The consumer would be genuinely protected & the gas industry will once again pick up.


Another example while we are giving ESV a good whack is their advisory for consumers in regards  who can service their gas appliances.


Can’t find yourself on the list!  What a joke! We have had many contact us with reports of consumers cancelling jobs with fully licensed gas technicians who aren’t on the list. The consumers won’t believe the gas techs are qualified because they aren’t on the advisory!

 The list appeared without warning or consultations from anyone. Not only is the list 10 years old & appears to come from the GASLINK days half the companies don’t have a qualified gas technician today. So we have our gas regulator publishing an incomplete list that misleads consumers & damages the business of those left off it!!

We have the PIC trying to convince the consumer only to use a licensed plumber & gasfitter & we have the ESV telling the consumer that over 7000 gasfitters can’t do their work!!!  Did I hear anyone say class action!!!!


While on gas it would appear no one knows what is going to happen to national licensing in regards gasfitter & gas appliance technicians. The silence is worrying along with the odd behaviour above. Watch this space!


On the spotters fees we all received notices from our local water mafia/board letting us know that fees & application cost would be rising along with CPI. No mention of raising the spotters fees for HCB blockages. They must have forgotten again!!


All of above clearly demonstrates the lack of empathy or understanding they have of our industry. If we hear one more time that these bodies are here to protect the consumer it should make us all puke!!!  The effect of egos & greed has had a profound effect on our industry if anyone can shed some light on anything positive to come from the last decade let us all know!!! 


This month we are seeking any stories or photos. You can send them in via our email address


Until next month don’t let the trade sink further & keep the reports from the field coming.



 Archived 3rd of May 2011



We are back after a well earned break. A lot has been happening in the world of plumbing & unfortunately not to much is good. The change in government doesnt appears to have achieved much at this stage, but we live in hope.

We have had a response from the anti competitive neutrality unit in regards State run Water Authorities competing against small family plumbing businesses with their commercial activities. A number of items have been sighted as breaches & water boards directed to make alterations to how they manipulate their branding. Interestingly the previous complaint & directives in 2005 had not been acted on & still had outstanding breaches not complying with the regulators directives.  We will release the whole report soon. Hopefully with the drought breaking they will now go & focus their activities on what they should be doing in running a water utility & not plundering our industry with their dodgy low skill set contractors.

Carbon monoxide is a big topic after the tragic death of 2 children in Shepparton.  We have been warning about the lack of leadership from our regulators & continued bungling of the gas industry for some time. The misinformation circulating regarding carbon monoxide is amazing. The media have been reporting all sorts of different info most of which is wrong.  This directly reflects the incompetency of our regulators.  Even now we have television adverts showing a gas tech using a flue gas analyser attached to a probe wrongly positioned for a wall furnace test.  The flyers sent out by ESV are a joke.  “Call to Arms” – what do they think we have been doing sitting on our backsides!!!  More importantly they have given poor information.  A carbon monoxide spill test requires a carbon monoxide meter ($450) not a combustion analyser ($3500) which requires proper training to use normally type B accreditation.  The other ridiculous info is the 10 part per million spec they have released.  This would be ok if the AGA where on the same page. Currently we have gas appliances getting approval from the AGA that spill 30 ppm when brand new such as open log fires.  So how do we draw the line of what is ok & what’s not. I know what the coroner will refer to.!    Rather than supporting the industry & making it compulsory for appliance serving as in the UK they once again have stuff it up. Instead it appears the federal government will legislate to make carbon monoxide detectors in homes mandatory like smoke alarms. Rather than fix the problem by some common sense regulations they have adopted a last resort measure which is proven to be unreliable.  It pretty much demonstrates they have no faith in the gas/plumbing regulators ability to regulate!!!

National licensing has been on the agenda with Tony Arnell’s trying to inflict his ego on the rest of Australia. It will make a good Monty Python skit I am sure. We have already had a 16 year old gain a gafitting license in Western Australia after spending 4 weeks at tafe.

Spotter’s fees are still stewing with water boards still price fixing rebates for HCB blockages. They recently after 10 years raised the rebate by 12% which basically is 1/3 of cpi for the time frame. Let alone the practise is basically extortion for both the plumber & consumer.

The green plumber is still attracting elite government funding & work for a privately owned enterprise. Tafe’s appear to be under threat with funding now being taken for training for wide variety of training by privately owned training organisations. These training groups are attracting government incentives & rebates & endorsement by our regulators at the expense of our  Tafes.  Part of the changing landscape I hear you say. Then why are we penalised by the fees we are made to pay if we are not part of the union or master plumbers.  If receiving government funding fees should be the same for everyone or give to the Tafes as it is tax payer’s money.  It currently discriminates against anyone which doesn’t want to be part of these bodies.

Plumbers & builders warranty insurance continues to be a sham, with 9, 7 & the ABC doing exposé stories on the debacle. Tony Arnell’s was bailed up by Today Tonight & was shown to be a person with very little empathy for the plight of the consumer he has let down. Consumer affairs continue to vet complaints & claims. Last year 28 complaints resulted in prosecutions out of 28000 complaints. Need we say more!! 

Until next time try make yor voice heard before it is to late!!!  We do!     VPU.


2nd Of November 2010

  Sandringham Hotel Tuesday the 9th of November 7.30pm

Click on the Nav bar on the right at the bottom for meeting flyer -----------------------  or

  The Parlimentary Builders warranty inquiry concludes.


 Latest on builders & plumbers warranty SHAM

Brumby has head in the sand!!!

Tim Holding still missing!!!!

Another example from Stateline:


30/4/10 Herald Sun Editorial on BWI

Stateline ABC report Builders Warranty Scheme 9/4/10

ABC 7.30 Report on Insurance Sham

 Updated 20th of August 2010

Well we all head off to the polls on Saturday feeling like it will be a waste of time with two less than inspiring candidates. Good luck with your choices & lets all hope we get something that helps us all move forward.

The latest link above regarding the latest BWI inquiry report from Stateline must bring shame on us all that an intelligent society can let these sitiuations occur. The parlimentary inquiry has taken all the evidence over the last 6 months from all involved in our industry except Tony Arnells who felt it didnt warrant his attendance. The committee will hand down its findings in the next months, we all wait with baited breath. The submissions have been overwhelmingly astonishing exposing the lack of regulatory process, greed & sheer lies. The vehicles the so called key players have been able to hide in whilst systematically plundering & destroying our trades have been scrutinised & shown to be nothing but opputunistic bodies that offer very little in the way of support of our trades or protection for the consumer from ratbags that have destroyed our trades integrity.

The posturing & spin doctoring by some industry representives defies belief. The ship is sinking & they continue to pretend nothing is happening.  We live in hope that a magic wand will repair the damage these clowns have done over the last decade. How they can look in the mirror & believe thay are moraly & ethicly guilt free is bewildering. We are yet to see any of the cronnies come clean & break ranks. Lets see what the parliment delivers & watch the rats run from the ship.

The new MYKI certificate of compliance lodging has arrived at the plumbing industry commission. Noticeable changes are that you now have to give your clients contact details so you can be audited with out being contacted yourself. Given no one has been audited over the last 18 months. We will await the deluge of audits. Many plumbers are providing their own phone number rather than the clients. Their reasoning is maintaining their clients privacy laws along with wanting to be kept in the loop in regards their work & the potential damage a low skilled limited experienced inspector will say if he is unescorted. Amazing situation & clearly show the lack of consideration given to the plumber & his clients. No other proffession would tolerate this scenario. Possibly the PIC could have had the courtesy to inform us to how the procedure would work prior to implementation. Once again they have treated us with contempt & the big brother appoach.

The water boards have been placed on notice regarding the anti competive advertising they have been placing on rate notices & water bills. The deals they have struck with Caroma have got many of the plumbing suppliers noses out of joint as they also beleive it has effected their trade. Watch this space!

The water boards spotters fees continue to fester. Our working group has made formal compalints to the ACCC & are currently going through the process, updates will follow.

National licensing is on the horozion with recent rediculous surveys which the day to day plumber would be mystified about. A clear example of the lack of understanding of our trade at grass roots level.  Follow the link for yourself ---

Some proposed changes will help our trade with national trainging schemes & significant funding. It appears we may not be called plumbers & gasfitters as gasfitting seams to have been neglected along with gas servicing.

 Thats it for now we have to go prepare our inserts for our voting cards. I hope by voting we dont encourage the barstards to much!!!

 Archive 2nd of June

 Our working groups have been working hard on a number of fronts, trying to get some answers on a number of issues concerning all of us in the plumbing game.
Also we report on developments from the government enquiry into Builders & Plumbers Warranty insurance.
Issue 1.
House branch blockages & spotters fees.
A number of our members who have helped make up our working parties for various hot topics. Have been busy writing letters to various players in the spotters fee debacle. Some of the responses have truly been amazing, along with the expected apathetic replies from the water utilities.
An overview of the outcomes is as follows:
The government via the VCEC investigation in 2006 on how the water industry interacts with its customers directed the water boards to simplify & make fairer outcomes for plumbers who interact with them.
Since this directive the water boards have been asked to set up independent working groups within their area to find solutions for these issues. They have been warned not to collude with other water boards in the price fixing of charges & fees.
So what have they done! Nothing, as we know fees haven’t changed in some instances in 9 years. In the case of SEWL they where given 20 points from our working group, along with offers to sit on any working party to find a transparent equitable solution for spotters fees & HCB blockages.
 After waiting 3 months for a responce we finally got a reply. It basically tells us we will be getting a fee increase after June TO $74.
The increase amount wasn't explained as to how it was calculated or why no plumber's were involved with the process. Hardly what we would call transparent or fair process or by the VCEC recommendations or guidelines.
In Steve Muir's (SEWL) letter he states plumbers have been consulted & their feedback noted. We havent heard any plumbers say $74 is fair to carry out basically their work at any time of the day or week. Nor did he answer any of the 19 other points our working group addressed to him.
The process was dealt with by SEWL in house with out consultation from anyone outside their ranks which has been confirmed by the Master Plumbers, Union & PIC.
So how it's process is transparent or fair. This is once again questionable behaviour & further example of their unconscionable conduct.
Their own commercial plumbing arm is charging $220 for after hours blockage callout & yet they offer a fee of $74 to anyone outside their ranks.
Financial Redress class action claim for spotters fees
Given the above we have obviously noted the recent class action against the banks for unfair fees & charges. Given the legal advice we have been given our plight is very similar due to the conduct of the water boards.
The class action claim could allow all plumbers & customers effected by the spotters fee debacle make retrospective claim for any finacial loss incurred by the water board processes. This would open a massive can of worms as the number of claimants would be in the 100's of thousands. We have already had interest shown from numerous blockage specialist who together mount a sizeable claim. There is no reason why every licensed plumber who has kept records of their blockage call outs cant make retrospective claims in a combined class action.
Watch this space for further developments!
Issue 2
Apprentice training
The input in regards apprenticeship training & the feedback employers get from the RTO is once again becoming a hot topic.
The apprentice training pools seam to have the biggest say in how our apprentices are taught & what role RTO is expected to play.
MEGT have been asked what is the point of 6 monthly meetings between the apprentice & employer when the RTO has no accountability or doesn’t offer any noteworthy feedback via their reports or any other method. The issues have been raised with MEGT but have no way of getting answers from the RTO. What is the role of MEGT & how can it justify the government money it takes for facilitating nothing.
We are told again & again the skill set of our apprentices is dropping away & the effort of the employers to get the best outcomes for the training of their apprentices is falling on deaf ears. We are the ones investing in our trade’s future & taking the financial risk to facilitate the Licensing of another plumber for the future. All parties except the employer are profiteering & yet it seems the employer is the only accountable party in the overall process.
Issue 3  
Gas appliance repairs
It seams there is a big push with the national licensing & electricians to take the gas appliance repairs away from plumbing.
The regulating of this specialised class has been non existent over the last few years. Energy Safe Victoria virtually needs a fatality to start an investigation or follow up any complaint. The few inspectors that remain are virtually overwhelmed as the number & competency is so few. Recent tragic events may in fact expose this reckless situation. 
Unless it is a type B appliance or complex installation you won’t see them. The PIC don’t have any interest in regulating the plundering of the gas trade as it fits the too hard basket, along with they lack the personal to regulate it properly. The PIC have knowingly let this demarcation fester for a long time knowing full well that companies are servicing equipment with out the proper accreditation.
Hungry Jacks have lobbyied the PIC to sanction COMCATER becoming the registered trainer for electricians to be certified as gas appliance repairers.
So much for the assurances we got at the PIC road show seminars!
Issue 4
The Brumby government is desperately trying to find an insurance company to take over the underwriting of Builders warranty insurance as the departure of Vero is imminent in 30 days.
Builders will struggle with the current set up as the sole remaining insurer will cherry pick the low risk building companies to insure & leave the others out of business.
The blow torch is slowly heating up on the Arndell’s led Building industry commission as their presentation at the inquiry was weak in content and basically presented a explanation of process rather than any hard data of how they are protecting the consumer. Vero have since supplied data contradicting the building commssions data
 The easiest example is that they conducted 178 investigations/audits of 22,000 permits. This would mean most builders would go through their working life with out ever being audited. Basically we have an unregulated system rife with defects, with no real consumer protection. Their main line of defence was, & I quote “the integrity of the licensed practioner as a reputable person".

Issue 5
Water board rate notice's advertising their commercial plumbing arms
On a positive note the latest rate notices have had the advertising removed. We contacted the Anti Competitive neutrality unit & provided examples of what was going on.
VCEC directed the advertising contravened their ruling in 2006
Word has it that plumbing retailers have now got issues with the schemes as they have been precluded from the scheme which has undermined their markets.
 We continue to lobby for water boards to cease operating in our traditional markets. We believe they have no right to unfairly compete in any part of the trade of plumbing. They have continued to plunder fire service repairs & unfairly rip customers off!
Thats it for this month
Hope to see you posting in our forums soon
Regards VPU-- Keeping plumbers in Victoria informed with out compromise!!

 Archive 2nd of May


The builders warranty insurance Sham investigation by the Legislative Council continues . Transcipts from the latest witnesses can be found here:    Interestingly Tony Arnells didn’t feel it warranted the Architect to attend the inquiry. The commish is now trying to call the flawed warranty "domestic building insurance"- DBI. Embarrassingly his foot soldiers turned up with very little data & the little they had made amusing reading. It was a little bit like being in the trenches in Gallipoli & writing back home saying all was well. For example 21.4 billion industry turnover, 105,000 permits annually, 24,000 registered builders. The grand total of audits for the year 174 --- LOL!!!!!!!!!!! But they claim they are on top of it. Out of the audits which may have been complaint follow ups or spot audits 77 needed penalties. That in my book is nearly a 40% failure rate. If we used that ratio it would mean out of the 105,000 permits 40, 0000 jobs lay in wait faulty & undetected. Queensland whose industry is smaller audited 4000 builders. The Arnells men clearly state in their transcript there first effort is to reject a complaint or deflect a consumers enquiry. 2222 legitimate complaints have been received & no tracking of their success or outcomes could be given.  Stay tuned for more developments!!

Issue 2

National Licensing is stirring & some interesting slips have seen some political posturing revealed. Hungry Jacks Mc Donalds along with Comcater are all pushing to carry out their own gas servicing with their own staff. Basically electricians with disconnect & reconnect permits & are wanting full accreditation for gas appliance servicing without the parent class of plumbing or gasfitting. This flies in the face of the guarantees we had been given at the PIC seminars. See the links page for the internal memos. ESV & the PIC have virtually left gas appliance servicing un regulated as they argue who does what. Another to hard basket with inexcusable butchering of our trade.

Issue 3

Green plumber has on sold its trade mark to a private entity reportedly for a 6 figure some. Looks like Ken Gardner is try to get some distance between the Master rats & the live grenade which will go off at any time. The green plumbers who paid the big bucks to buy the emperors clothes are stirring! 

Issue 4

The lack of apprenticeship spots in the Metro Tafes is playing into the union & master plumbers training centres hands. They are now considering to take on the position as a RTO for plumbing apprentices to help the shortfall. They will add some new subjects to the current plumbing apprenticeship curriculum - shop stewardship, effective striking, how to run a franchise company, how to get paid while doing nothing,  101 standover tactics, how to become an inspector                Can we possibly dumb down our trade anymore!

Issue 5

Sewer stoppage spotter’s fees have met a complete silence from the water authroities. Our working groups opened the dialogue & met with the key people in the various water boards & now can’t get any feed back from any of them. All agreed the fees hadn't changed in over 7 years & needed review but none knew the process or how this would happen. We await the bone they will throw us, maybe!

Issue 6

While on the water board issue. It appears South East Water have been dragged before VCAT regarding their commercial advertising of pan change overs under the green scheme. Using customers rate notices to advertise commercial enterprises was outlawed by the anti competive neutrality unit some years ago. It would appear they forgot! Word also has it very few toilets are being changed over at the advertised prices, as their are many hidden extras along with customer complaint/call backs ratio's over 25%. Shultz plumbing has distanced themselves from the scheme & pyramid sub contracted to Bayside plumbing. ROFLOL!  Green plumbing franchises must be scratching their heads why they are precluded from the government initiative & only the privilege few got a Guernsey. Needless to say the old family plumbing business hasn’t reached the accreditation needed to be able to change over a pan & cistern!!!

Issue 7

E tool box is still not here & looks like it is slowly getting watered down in what it will provide. The ability to get asset web maps for sewer & water which is available via web based portals currently wont be available. This could have been a great sweetener for all of us but once again outside the ability of the PIC to pull it together.

8.  Tony is back from sunning himself in Queensland after basking in the glory with his fellow architects. Tony was given a golden challis for his architecture of completely stuffing plumbing in the last 10 years. The man very rarely seen in public or available to any of us plebs humbly spruiked his award on both homepages of the building commission & PIC. Never to be accused of over ego driven hopefully a higher profile public service job will eventuate to drag him away from us soon!!!!!



Archive 17/4/10

Welcome again to another update from VPU, the only plumbing body that embraces the grass roots plumber’s day to day concerns with out compromise.

Issue 1.

 We have formed some working groups to get some questions answered & solutions of our recent issues. Last months hot topic sewer stoppage spotters fees have been addressed with formal letters & contact made to metro water boards. All of the water boards agreed a price rise was well overdue as none had raised spotter’s fees in the last 5 years. No water boards can know claim they are unaware of the plumbers concerns as all have been contacted. It does seem that none of them have any real incentive to give us a fair price or willing to change their current processes. As yet we have not received any formal replies after 30 days. Stay tuned as we will post all contact details & personal mobile numbers for all concerned in these water authorities.

Issue 2.

The ever increasing concerns of sham builders & plumbers warranty insurance are growing legs with recent media coverage & enquiries. The link at the top of this page is one example of the insurance shams.   This link gives another recent example of how Tony Arnels has let both commissions slip into disarray with his head in the sand approach.  Currently the Victorian government has the builders warranty insurance inquiry under way. It will run from the 14th of March through to the 8th of April. Some of the written submissions make interesting reading & the absence of any public submissions from Tony or the insurance companies. No doubt they will suppress their submissions to protect us all. We will let you know the outcomes & check the links nav bar for direct web addresses.

Issue 3

We still have a South Australian company selling type B gas accreditation. Seems their is a lot of confusion of what their course will actually get you as the minimum competencies seem to have been compromised to solve skill shortages. Watch out for them on your next corn flakes packet!

 Issue 4 

Hot water unit scams have come to the media's attention along with the insulation debacle. Alarm bells started ringing a long time ago but once again no one took notice. The PIC had many opportunities to finally give something back to all of us in the way of assistance to stimulate our business activity but instead effectively let our industry be plundered by all. Possibly their commercial interest in the climate initiative centre & green plumber franchises clouded their judgment. LOL!  It’s odd when you have to purchase heat pump hot water units from your local dairy farmer or footy club! Is there something wrong in government? What were our so called key stake holders doing when these schemes were mooted? Buying Dairy farms! Well done Shayne once again asleep at the wheel.

Issue 5

Water boards have begun advertising their commercial plumbing enterprises in their water rate invoices again. Given none of us can chose who we buy water from, this is government assisted marketing in our day to day plumbing markets. This contravenes the Government anti competitive neutralities legislation. This was formally investigated by the neutrality unit some time ago & ruled that water board shall cease incorporating any advertising material in their rates notices. Someone must have forgotten, that’s right new staff who were unaware of the ruling.  

Issue 6

 Funny how the elite few such as Shultz plumbing are able to participate in their dual flush toilet change over program assisted by government funding which day to day plumbers cant access. La Combre could have scored some points from all of us if all of us were able to contribute to the scheme & access the rebates. Another golden duck for Shayne!


 Commercial/Industrial customers have been receiving letters regarding backflow devices for there properties.  They are directed to the Australian Institute of Refrigeration Air-conditioning & Heating (AIRAH) register

We asked the water boards why they needed to direct people to a commercially run enterprise. The explained no other register existed for customers to refer to.  When we asked the PIC why they didn’t have one they said it wasn’t up to them. They then went on to say that with the new web based computer interface they have been spooking. It will allow Joe Public to access what accreditation plumbers had. That’s great but unless you know a plumbers name how can you search for a backflow tester. When asked would their software search engine locate a particular qualified plumber for an area, the answer was no!  Not their role. Another golden duck!             

issue 8

Apprentice reports have been discussed at length over the last 2 years we have lobbied Gary Bath (PIC) in regards the pathetic report employers receive from TAFES in regards their apprentices. Basically you receive a progress report with no indication of strengths & weaknesses. Given the RTO & employer are meant to be trying to get the highest skilled trades people we think it is important we work together during the apprenticeships. At the moment the employer is flying blind. Disappointingly our working group on this issue contacted Gary Bath on several occasions & could not get a response or acknowledge our concerns. It seems the commercial apprentice pools have more of a say who have very little regard for the training outcomes. Once again the grass root plumber isn’t a key stake holder!!!!! Another golden Duck!

Coming election:

We are currently lobbying & stirring our issues amongst the politicians. The Builders collective is also on the same page as us & together we will provide candidates with all the information they need to raise the profile of our many concerns of the degradation of our trades. Hopefully we can force change via our lobbying & bring some common sense to government & its regulators. We will post details of proactive candidates along with the independents that will run in this years campaign.

 Until next months, keep contributing to our forums & pass the word!!!

Hopefully Shayne can get some runs on the board next month!

 Archive 5th of FEB 2010

The sewer blockage complaint is growing legs & becoming a very hot topic. Most would know water boards have been paying spotters/stoppage fees. The process has infuriated all of us & recently has gone a step further by SEWL now requiring customer invoices to be supplied when applying for their $54 spotters fee. These are required to be sent to priority plumbing for processing, They are the commercial plumbing business of SEWL. Conflict of interest I hear you say, along with loss of interlectual property & supplying your direct competitor with commercialy sensitive info.  Well we formally approached SEWL to find out how this process is managed & by who?   

After many phone calls to the gurus of SEWL we where told the PIC set the fee some time ago.  Apparently forgotten to be reviewed for 9 years, but totaly not their problem. More calls to PIC HQ found out this is bullshit. The PIC have never had any role in setting spotters fees & in fact their phone calls revealed all water boards had different rates. After much weeding through the white collar directory's we finaly found a rabbit that would stick its head up & admit the fee is actually an agreed amount. If we charged ths amount our invoice will be automatically processed with out dispute. In actual fact we can invoice what ever we like but will be required to document our charges as per fair & reasonable plumbing rates. So in other words you will need a lawyer to drag the money out of them if you charge above their agreed rate. When we enquired why the spotters fee hadnt increased with the standard cost of living for 9 years it was explained they need to meet their budgets & found their unskilled staff could easily complete these tasks for the fee offerd. A lesson in economics the SEWL way. He pointed out how lucky we where that their system paid us normally prior to 60 days. Why do I feel like a dog that has been thrown a left over bone!! So its official the water boards have taken it on themselves to deregulate our plumbing license to meet their budgeting targets. Didnt I read somewhere in a PIC document plumbers earnt $135 per hour & this is their measuring stick for the goverment. That would mean we would have to slide down the fireman pole when we recieved the call of a hopefully nearby sewer choke, Drive the truck to the job jump out meet the customer, get the gear out, locate the blockage, ring the coms room-get put on hold, pass all the details you know they already have sitting on their computer, pack up the gear, try to explain to the customer why you cant clear their blockage, write an invoice if you are game, drive the truck back, submit you invoice to the water board with their authrority number, take the letter to the post box wait 60 days in hope! for $54. This would mean you would need to complete all task in 10 minutes, pay for petrol, labour, wear & tear on equipment. HELLO!!!!!

It would appear our trade stands in the way of a lot of their money making plans. I also enquired how many plumbers that still had active licenses worked for SEWL DIRECTLY & no example could be given. I also asked what training programs or apprenticeship programs thay where running to help guarantee the future of plumbers? -- DONUTS!!!  That right none. Having asked some of the sub contractors currently working for SEWL, all confirmed no super was being paid to them or workcover. All have invoiced more than 90 days in a 12 months period and worked like this for many years. How about an audit from JOGAMA on these water boards.

On one hand we have government crying out for skilled labor & on the other in reality they dont want to invest or sustain the existing long standing businesses.

Check the forum for a full run down on the blockage debate

 Archive 12/1/2010 

New link been added on NAV bar with the PIC overview for 2008-2009. Interestingly they didnt distribute the report publicly or use their electronic data base to distribute to the "practioners". Possibly due to the data that has finally been released in it. The most astonishing is the 10.5% failure rate of plumbing audits. They then go onto to say only 5% of jobs are audited. One can then conclude that out of 336,000 certificates lodged that 34,000 are non compliant and 32000 faulty jobs remain undetected per year awaiting a claim via our insurance scheme. Hardly regulatory excellence which they self proclaim in their report. In fairness given their total budget of 12 million which is self funded by us is never going to impact a building industry which is turning over 19 billion.

Other interesting data which comes to light is only 907 water tanks recieved a certificate of compliance for 12 months whilst we are under drought conditions. Must be a lot of water tanks lying around in backyards uninstalled. 31 certificates for irrigation sytems for 12 months.  Also it would pay to get into fire protection as their is only 14 Lic practioners for the state. Mind you only 61 instances of fire protection work was completed in 12 months. Must be a lot of new buildings & refits going with out proper compliance.

So therefore - its conclusively proven the trade is a basket case courtesy of a self serving body funded by us who havent got a clue what they are doing. The reputable plumbing business has had their markets gouged by lack of regulation which has allowed the undermining of skill in our trade. We also now find we are underwriting these shortfalls by the bias insurance shceme which has no component to recognise high risk practioners as opposed to long term reputable plumber. The fact no insurance data in regards claims & revenue is being released to us the Plumber, continues to make us all believe the whole system stinks to high heaven!!

We need transparency from the PIC. We still cannot document a successful claim or protection of the consumer via the insurance scheme in 10 years.  The big boys in town are being completly subsidised by the family plumbing business. The franchise companies who invest nothing in the trade continue to plunder unchecked at all of our expence.

When will it end!!!

 ARCHIVE 9/12/09 

For a change we bring some good news. It looks like the National training review has finally found out what we have all known for some time. Plumbing has gone backwards in skill set due to poor training & the lack of structure in the plumbing courses avaialbe. 

In their recommendations new specialised training will be available along with diplomas for those who wish to go the next step. The training will become nationaly recoginised & standardised. Money will be sought from federal government to setup specialised training resources along with attracting the specialist teachers who have been lost to the trade due tothe short sightedness of previous governments. All in all this shows a step in the right direction for the trade of plumbing to maintain its reputation & high standards.  Find the link for their final report ---
Once again on a sour note we need to bring everyone's attention to the hypocracy of the government regulators.  I am sure we all recieved Shane La Combre's letter asking us to participate in the free water leak detection audits. Dont know why, but Shane must think we are all sitting around wondering what to do with ourselves. Well just to rub it in we have become aware of the DHS free WATER WISE PROGRAM offered by water boards through out Victoria. Well investigation has revealed some classic cases of how the small plumber is getting squeezed out of the industry.  This link will tell you how the water boards are double dipping restraining our trade & using wate rate payers data bases for their own commercial gain.                             So Shayne has us running around with goodwill & the water authourities are getting paid $500 plus a admin fee of $37.50 per customer to do the same job with the bottom of the barrel plumbers who are basically wiping out our local markets with government assistance. Shayne you had the perfect opputunity to offer the plumbers something with this intiative & fianlly give something back to the trade & instead unless you are SHULTZ plumbing or the infamous GREEN plumber or the water board MAFIA we cant participate!!!!!!

BUT SHAYNE WE FEEL SO GOOD ABOUT PLUMBING YOU HAVE OFFERED OUR SERVICES FOR FREE!!!!!!!!!!!  Shayne remember the GFC & the current economic crisis we all face you fool, your last brochure about work & family time gives us an insight to how far out of touch you are with this industry!  Some key points to note when we rang DHS about the program & asked why other lisenced plumbing could not participate in the scheme & only the two firms had been mentioned. The answer was, that the specialised training was required to carry out the audits, which  needed a special skill set. I quote the type of skills required which are on the list in the available items that could be replaced - Tap washers, aerators, flow restrictors, shower rose, cistern change overs, trigger nozzles & minor hot water adjustments. Shayne if the plumbers you are lisencing cant do these tasks we are all in strife.  Other emotional propaganda included in their water wise document stated by changing cisterns to a dual flush, this could save 35000 litres per year. Lets say  3- 6 litres or 7-9 litres depending on age of the cistern up grade. lets say on average we save 4 litres per flush with an upgrade. This would mean the cistern would need to be flushed 365 days of the year 24 times.  That's a big case of the shits for any house hold! Lets say 12 times a day which would be more like 17000 litres per year which equates to a dollar saving of around $25. So in ten years you will have recouped your outlay & probably need a new cistern any way. Just remember each time you flush you have just saved 0.6 of a cent. 

The emotional propaganda & unnescary hardship water conservation is putting on all of us has gone to far. The above is purely legitimising the needless plundering of government funds for the select few who have no right to be in our industry!!!  Once again Shayne - Shame!!!  Have a look at the amount of water they cant account for in their transmission pipes. Unmetered water that goes missing from all the water boards which we all know are the leaks they know about but cover up because its to costly to repair or get to! The grannies that fret over their life long gardens & showering with buckets under them to maintain one of the few pleasures in life is just ridiculous. Someone slap me!!!!

The Green plumber has run into strife & could even sink the master plumbers with the grubby franchise & trademark liabilties!  The ever dilligent Ken Gardner wasnt sleeping at night after taking the hot seat at the central piggery, after watching the pigs snouts in the trough & realising they were possibly dining on something they shouldnt have been!! With the amount of rumbles coming from the trough some sours have been dispatched to the abbatoir! Watch this space!!!!!!

Puma turns into E tool Box!  The new web based portal for plumbers to lodge & record Certificates of Compliance is about to be launched. We have inside info from some guinea pigs who have seen the non live version. They say its a step in the right direction. It will tidy up the loop holes in the COC system that cowboys, consumers & builders have been able to rort. It will also protect us & bring the moonlighters including fanchise companies undone. Investigations will become easier as the data base will now have history on all addresses. They originally said the phone system will be slowly shut down but this is under review as the drainage booking sytem needs phone access right upto the death knock of 4pm. The portal will act as a one stop shop similar to your banking portal.  The computer iliterate will be given access to one on one training & if needed other options.  We are the biggest sceptics when it comes to the PIC but if delivered in its current format this will help regain the integrity of our industry. Rather than the old adage to protect the ever important consumer this will protect our us & bring accountability to the PIC! 


This site has been set up to host the opinions & forums of the so far unheard Licensed Plumbers & Gasfitters in Victoria Australia that run small family plumbing companies that arent aligned with the so called key stake holders. The site has been run since September 2008 to rally support and let all of  us in the trade of plumbing have freedom of speech without restriction.  Contributions already on the Plumbers forum (link to the left on Nav bar) tell some unbeleivable horrific stories and show the outrage in our ranks of the demise of our industry.  

Currently the government have introduced the new Plumbing regualtion on the 24th of November 2008. Very few in the industry where aware that the regualtions have been under review and it would seem that those of us who made submissions after the impact review statement was released have been ignored. Most plumbers would have by now recieved the promotional guff about new regs which gives a overview of what has been changed. The opptermistic few of us thought they would use this sunset clause of old regs to repair the damage they had inflicted on all of us over the last 10 years. Wrong more of the same and even worse they have allowed further gouging and deskilling of our trade with the introduction of new special classes.

  We have decided to put this web site up to try & unite the small end of the industry and have some say on the future of our trade. This site is being watched by the regulators and has already made some important changes in the PIC trajectory.

  The small end being small family businesses or sole traders which make up over 75% of Licensed Plumbers & Gasfitters in Victoria. It appears to us the other 25% seem to have all the say on what direction our plumbing regulations will take. Most plumbers enjoy their trade and take pride in their workmanship. Many of our trade  come from generations of plumbers with long family history in the industry, in recent times we have had to become legal eagles due to the contemptious nature of the PIC 's regaulations & policies. After reading the proposed new regulations it appears to be more of the same. The reason the trade is heading in this direction is because their is very little voice from the silent 75% that is to busy trying to keep their heads above water.  When you do speak up, you get singled out when challenging the regulator. Master plumbers have been run by the big end of town and have very little empathy for the small guy. The union are asleep at the wheel because they can now make money from training people. Its time we stood up and said what the silent majority think!

Well we have had enough and believe if we can get enough numbers behind this web site, we may get the some change in policy. This would enable us to give him a different picture of what in reality is really going on at ground level. Our weakness has been the fractured nature of the small plumbing firm community. We need to UNITE and give a strong voice to Spring St. Otherwise we are stuck with more of the same for another 10 years. This web site provides the vehicle to express any concerns whilst maintaining the privacy of your identity.

Feel free to post in the forum any of your comments about the new proposal good or bad. Also please contribute to the other topics in the forum to help paint the picture to tell the story of the last ten years with these regualtions. 

 United we will have a voice!!

Please pass the web address to as many in the plumbing community as possible!

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