Call for stimulus to prevent building industry “bloodbath”
When Dennis Bryant took a road trip in February, talking about building in bushfire-prone areas, builders all around Central Queensland were so busy there was a fear they would run short of tradies.
Now, industry leaders are calling for another round of economic stimulus packages to counter a looming "bloodbath".
Regional manager of Master Builders Queensland, Mr Bryant said projections for 2020 were optimistic after a three-year slump in both the residential and commercial sectors.
"There was a drop in rental availability and houses to buy which saw a spike in interest and activity in the building industry," he said.
"With a lot of work scheduled beyond June, our members were feeling very positive.
"And then, BAM, along came the COVID-19 pandemic."
Mr Bryant said he was amazed how well all stakeholders, including state and federal leaders, had handled the challenges of keeping communities safe.
"With the help of digital technologies, we were able to quickly pass on the latest information to our members on a daily basis," he said.
"Specifically, they were concerned with travelling to work, the number of people on site and workplace practices including hygiene requirements and working in close spaces.
"There were also some concerns about the impact of supplies from overseas, but Masters Builders did an assessment on some alternative products."
Mr Bryant also said advice from "first class" accountants helped many of his members benefit from the first instalment of Queensland Government stimulus packages, including Jobkeeper.
But now, Master Builders Australia is urging the government to introduce additional "swift and urgent" measures to prevent new builds from drying up.
Figures show a 34 per cent decrease in dwellings approvals in CQ over the past three months, with approvals for multi-unit dwellings dropping from eight to zero.
In the past month alone, the approvals for non-residential builds dropped from 13 to three.
Master Builders CEO Grant Galvin has called for a $40,000 homeowners' grant which, he said, would create almost 12,000 jobs.
It is forecast this new stimulus package would result in the construction of more than 2270 new houses, 35 of them in Central Queensland.
"The State Government needs to stimulate the industry right now; if it doesn't, by the time the October election comes around, construction will be a carcass of its former self," he said.
Mr Bryant said a lot of seasoned locals recognised continuing with their building contracts would keep tradies employed, and potentially deliver value for money in an increasingly competitive market.
"It's the new homeowners who might feel like they're putting their head in a noose by signing a contract in these uncertain times," he said.
"A $40K incentive is a significant proportion of any build, whether it's a $300K or $500K home, and will go a long way to keeping Queensland builders in work."