With building activity in the state having endured years of record lows, measures to boost the construction sector in the upcoming Queensland budget are imperative to the state’s overall economic fortunes, a building industry group says.
Master Builders (Queensland) executive director Graham Cuthbert says current low levels of building activity should be taken into account when putting the budget together.
“While lower interest rates and the continued strong growth in resources activity, particularly in areas like Mackay and Central Queensland, should help to stimulate construction activity over the coming year, it is likely that these positive influences will be offset to some degree by a number of negative influences,” he says.
Cuthbert notes that already, the building and construction industry has lost 15,000 workers over three years, adding that a large number of firms in the industry are struggling to remain profitable and retain staff.
Furthermore, as the largest employer of full-time workers in the state, Cuthbert says the industry has a substantial multiplier effect throughout the broader economy.
In a pre-budget report released to the media on Monday, Master Builders called on the government to beef up its capital works program, restrict the First Home Owners Grant to new homes only, and undertake a review of existing government property holdings and commercial business units.
Cuthbert says indications that the government may be seeking to reduce its capital works program are concerning, and that capital could be raised through the sale of government properties and ongoing expenditure reduced through restriction of the home owner grant.
He says the current home owner grant scheme is inefficient because 85 to 90 per cent of home buyers choose established houses over new ones.
If restricted to new housing, Cuthbert says, the grant could double and the government would still come out on top.