The construction industry could pave the way for an economic recovery following the shock impacts of COVID-19 with support leading to a knock-on effect to other industries.
Developer and housing lobby groups the Urban Taskforce and the HIA joined The Greens in calling for support for the building industry following the stock market crash from widespread concern around COVID-19.
Greens leader Adam Bandt called for a $27.9 billion housing trust that would stimulate the economy and build 500,000 solar powered homes over the next 15 years.
“Our housing system is broken, now is the right time for the government to fix the problem while keeping us away from the possibility of a recession,” Bandt said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the government would continue to invest in infrastructure around the country ahead of announcing an economic stimulus package.
“For me it was very clear this was going to be a significant issue that had very profound broader economy-wide impacts globally because what this virus does is disrupt economies, global and domestic,” he said.
“It is a health disruptor not a financial disruptor in terms of its cause so it’s important to keep this in perspective.
“This has a fixed life, this virus and it will run its course.”
HIA chief executive industry policy Kristin Brookfield said the residential building industry should be one of the most supported because of its position in the Australian economy.
“The construction industry employs over 1.1 million people, with residential building work generating over $105 billion for the Australian economy in 2018 and accounting for 5.8 per cent of expenditure in the Australian economy,” Brookfield said.
“The residential building industry has a strong track record of underpinning Australia’s economic growth and stability.
“Australia is emerging from a residential building downturn and in the face of the coronavirus shock, stability and clear direction to ensure the housing market does not take a backwards step is essential.”
Urban Taskforce chief executive Tom Forrest welcomed Greens leader Adam Bandt’s call for a construction industry-led recovery from the impacts of the coronavirus.
“The construction sector has dropped off and in NSW and this is set to get worse with new home approvals now at 2012 levels,” Forrest said.
“This means urgent and innovative reform is needed to get planning approvals through the NSW Planning System.
“Whether the new homes are in the form of affordable housing, or green housing, or public housing, or simply more housing, urgent action is needed to bring down housing prices and allow new home buyers back into the market.
“Stimulating the construction sector has the biggest multiplier impact on the NSW and Australian economies.
“The process starts with architects and planners, engineers and urban designers.”
Construction in regional areas was already on the rise with insurance claims starting to filter through areas hit by bushfires.