Builders claim role in economic stability

December 24, 2022 BY

While residential construction is contracting, commercial and industrial builds continue to hold up and that has one industry lobby group calling for changes.

THE latest National Accounts have highlighted the need for governments to not be complacent and allow industry to ramp up investment and productivity gains to shield against global economic instability said Master Builders CEO Denita Wawn.

“Gross domestic product grew by 0.6 per cent in the September quarter to be 5.9 per cent higher through the year driven by household spending and consumption,” she said.

“These figures are showing a return to pre-pandemic levels and have helped offset some global challenges, but signs of economic weakening are starting to emerge.

“We must not be complacent in addressing some of the systemic challenges on the supply-side which continue to ripple through the economy and will have realised impacts over the coming months.

“While there are signs of easing in some materials and labour constraints that have increased the cost of goods and services for consumers, more can be done to put downward pressure on costs and improve productivity.”

With a focus on that productivity, Ms Wawn said gains could have impacts on the wider economy.

“The large economic footprint of the building and construction sector means that better productivity in our industry will flow to many corners of the whole economy and benefit the living standards for ordinary Australians,” she said.

“For example, improved productivity in the building industry would have favourable effects on housing affordability.

“Better housing affordability outcomes would also boost Australia’s international competitiveness by taking pressure off wage inflation, with investment, exports and job creation all likely to see benefits.”

While home and apartment construction might be down, commercial and industrial builds are holding up but Ms Wawn said that strength could be at risk.

“[These] figures show that the volume of residential building is now 3.9 per cent lower than a year ago,” she said.

“However, the non-residential component of building and construction continues to grow solidly as more infrastructure projects get rolled out.

“Unnecessary regulation acts to the detriment of economic productivity. For the building and construction industry, the lack of stability and uniformity across the states when it comes to regulation is a major challenge.

“Attracting enough people to our industry to meet the demands of the coming decades is a major challenge. Policies around training, skilled migration, and industrial relations all offer opportunities for us to build a more productive labour force.

“The Government needs to stay the course on tackling inflation and work constructively with industry to build resilience and drive productivity as we head into tougher months.”