Industry advocates call for construction stimulus package

24/04/2020

A group of Australia’s leading construction industry representative organisations is calling on the National Cabinet, to consider the immediate implementation of a six-step stimulus plan to drive reinvigoration of the housing sector and secure regional employment through the construction supply chains.

The group, including the Frame and Truss Manufacturers’ Association (FTMA), TABMA, the Timber Trade Industry Association (TTIA) and Timber Merchants Australia (MGA TMA) represents timber processors, manufacturers and merchants throughout Australia.

TABMA Chief Executive Officer, David Little, said that Australian governments have used construction and housing stimulus programs successfully for over a century to generate economic activity, jobs and residential accommodation during difficult times.

“The beauty of this approach is that it supports industries that can work through the current socio-economic restrictions, has a deep impact on supply chains, from plantation timber growers through to builders, and has massive benefits for regional Australia,” he said.

The proposed six-step program includes:

  1. Extending the first home-owners program to ensure confidence for first home buyers, targeted at new construction
  2. Allow the re-opening of display homes, under tight social isolation measures, to allow construction companies to keep selling
  3. Remove or reduce stamp duty and/or land tax, particularly for new construction
  4. Accelerate social housing construction programs, particularly in regional areas, with a focus on engaging small and medium sized firms for construction
  5. Provide incentives for private investment in the construction of housing to support the NDIS, also freeing up health care facilities
  6. Consider a rent-to-buy stimulus program, where the Government owns the land and leases it to home builders with the option to buy.

TMA National Membership Manager, Ann Sanfey, said this was a potentially ‘huge’ program.

“We are currently preparing detailed briefing material for each of the six policy recommendations. It is important to note that we are not looking to reinvent the wheel here, we are asking governments to expand on existing policy mechanisms,” she said.

TTIA Chief Executive Officer, Brian Beecroft said what the organisations are suggesting works because it is far deeper reaching than just the immediate future of one small sector.

“If successful this simple six step plan can provide far reaching benefits through timber supply chains, as well as taking pressure of the stretched health system and addressing some clear community welfare needs in relation to social and disability housing,” he said.

The plan comes on the back of recent analysis by the Housing Industry Association which shows that Australia’s housing construction sector is facing an unprecedented decline, with Australia’s peak forestry body, the Australian Forest products Association, also calling for an urgent recovery package.

FTMA Chief Executive Officer, Kersten Gentle, said the payment supplements are a great start.

“However, we need to build the economy by getting people back at work, if that can be done safely, we need housing and we have opportunities to generate improved outcomes for regional and at-risk Australians. This plan for a comprehensive construction industry stimulus ticks all the boxes to support economic recovery as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.”