Feds take the first step to wind back red tape

December 23, 2023 BY

Master Builders Australia CEO Denita Wawn has praised the Federal Government’s mid-year economic and fiscal outlook statement.

THE Federal Government’s mid-year economic and fiscal outlook is being touted as a responsible economic management tool and the best way to put downward pressure on inflation and ease cost of living pressures by Master Builders Australia.

A spokesperson for the organisation said the Government was backing themselves in as responsible economic managers of the economy, and tapping itself on the shoulder citing that their good fiscal management has helped engineer an historic turnaround in the Federal budget position, and it has, to a degree.

The Labor Government does acknowledge that there’s more work to do to ease cost of living pressures, repair the Budget, and invest in the foundations of future growth.

The building and construction industry peak body, Master Builders Australia, also recognises the efforts the Federal Government has undertaken to tackle inflation and boost housing supply but stresses all policy levers to tackle the housing crisis must be pulling in the same direction.

Master Builders CEO Denita Wawn said that a strong building industry means a strong economy.

“Every $1 million worth of building activity supports around $3 million in activity across the economy,” she said.

“We know that one of the biggest challenges in tackling inflation and cost of living is from pressures in the housing market, including rental inflation.

“From social and community housing, rental properties to owner-occupiers, there is a common constraint, supply.

“The focus to solving the housing crisis is two-fold: getting inflation back under control, which will ease interest rates and fostering an environment conducive to investment and development.”

The industry has been quick to applaud the $6.5 billion in funding commitments made to improve housing supply and affordability.

The MYEFO announcement has confirmed funding for previously announced measures, including $2 billion through the Social Housing Accelerator, $1 billion to National Housing Infrastructure Facility, $3 billion for the New Home Bonus and $500 million to establish the Housing Support Program.

Ms Wawn said that Master Builders thank the efforts of the Treasurer Jim Chalmers and Minister Julie Collins, who are using appropriate fiscal levers to address some of the biggest bottlenecks across the housing spectrum.

“It’s now up to the states to follow through on their commitments to address challenges within the planning and approvals system,” Ms Wawn said.

“Builders and tradies have a big job ahead of them to ensure we can build enough homes to meet our Housing Accord objectives.

“On a policy front, further efforts are needed to lift economic growth, especially in building and construction, with a turbocharged productivity agenda.

“We need to ensure tradies are spending as much time as possible on the tools without unnecessary delays and disruptions.”

Master Builders have promised to continue to work closely with governments at all levels to ensure they can put further downward pressure on the cost of building and the time it takes to build.

They propose that this can be done by kickstarting private investment and reducing the cost of building homes through better approaches to planning, reducing backlogs, minimising taxes and charges, and improving productivity in the industry by simplifying building regulations and the industrial relations environment.

However, builders warn that the Federal Government needs to ensure all portfolios are singing from the same hymn sheet.

Master Builders are also continuing their push for a well-functioning and responsive VET sector, coupled with a simplified skilled migration system that they say is fundamental to the success of the building and construction industry.

Ms Wawn said that the industry need of half a million new workers in the next 3-5 years and that the domestic workforce simply cannot meet these targets in the short-term and skilled migration will play a key role in plugging that gap.

“The Government has started to make inroads here but there is still more to be done to make Australia an attractive destination for tradies,” she said.