Builders call for new community builder grants

by | Aug 17, 2020

Master Builders is calling on the Federal Government to fund a new initiative, CommunityBuilder grants, in the October Federal Budget to activate the construction of community and non-for-profit facilities, in its Pre-Budget Budget Submission released today.    

“We are calling for the Federal Government to adapt the highly effective HomeBuilder scheme model to do for the commercial construction sector what they done for the housing sector,” Master Builders Australia Chief Executive Officer, Denita Wawn, said. 

“Commercial construction activity will suffer a major fall of more than 17 per cent in 2020/21 according our latest forecasts. This will put under the viability of thousands of SME commercial construction businesses and the jobs of the thousands of tradies they employ, unless the Government steps in with measures such as CommunityBuilder.”

“We propose that CommunityBuilder would involve the Federal Government providing applicants from the not-for-profit and community sector with grants to fund 25 per cent of the construction, up to a capped amount for example $5 million, for facilities such as community centres, toilet blocks, libraries and training centres,” she said.   

Grant recipients could supplement CommunityBuilder grants with state and local government grants, according to Ms Wawn, but they would need to come up with the rest of the funds.

“Our modelling shows that an investment of $3.8 billion in CommunityBuilder would return a $6.8 billion boost to GDP and create 13,000 new jobs,” she said.  

“Our industry has more businesses on JobKeeper than any other sector of the economy and Master Builders is gravely concerned about their continuing viability and the livelihoods of the people they employ. That is why we are calling on the government to include funding of our the CommunityBuilder grants proposal in the October budget. As the sector with the third largest economic multiplier effect in the economy, commercial construction is vital to building a bridge to economic recovery and saving jobs,” Ms Wawn said. 

Master Builder’s message to the government is clear – talk of supporting small businesses through the crisis and creating jobs will be for nothing if there is not a pipeline of work, another spokesperson said today.

“As the Reserve Bank Government told the Parliament last week, ‘fiscal spending will get people back to work’ and the Government should heed our call to implement stimulus measures that will supplement demand. Cranes in the sky and utes on building sites are cited by some as indicators of economic growth. You will not see too many of either unless the government steps in and adopts measures such as those called for by Master Builders,” the spokesperson said.

In the Australian economy there is no industry with a bigger economic multiplier effect than building and construction, as there is no larger provider of full-time jobs and no other industry with as many small businesses, that is why we are seeking stimulus measures across the entirety of the residential, commercial, and civil construction sectors, Master Builders recently reported.

Master Builders Australia Chief Executive Officer, Denita Wawn.

Master Builders also announced that it would like to see the government deliver measures that will line up with its top five budget priorities including rebuilding Australia by:

  1. Investment in building and construction that gives back to the economy.
  2. Supporting business performance.
  3. Supporting people in the building and construction industry workforce.
  4. Improving procurement, planning and regulation.
  5. Appointing a Minister for Housing and Construction.

Underpinning the top five Master Builders also announced proposed fiscal and policy measures targeted to kickstart building and construction activity including:

  • A 12-month extension of HomeBuilder.
  • Establish a CommunityBuilder grants scheme based on the highly effective HomeBuilder model to activate the construction of smaller community/not-for-profit facilities.
  • Significantly reduce depreciation rates of capital works for investors in both residential and commercial property.
  • Facilitate through new procurement models an increase institutional investment in social infrastructure including social housing and ensure that smaller and local businesses can tender to deliver government funded projects.