Moves on the part of the South Australian government to fast-track more than $20 million in building and construction projects currently in the pipeline have been welcomed by the state’s building and construction industry.
On Monday, South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill announced his government’s intention to intensively case manage projects to fruition in an effort to support the industry through a difficult period.
Weatherill will ask the Economic Development Board, Urban Renewal Authority and Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure to prepare an assessment of ‘shovel-ready’ construction projects valued at more than $20 million that are currently seeking approvals.
Property Council of Australia – SA Division executive director Nathan Paine says the latest moves show that the state government has heeded the positive lessons of the federal government’s successful economic intervention at the start of the Global Financial Crisis.
“This approach to stimulus is smart in current economic times as it simply brings forward investment that was going to happen anyway, which means a neutral cumulative effect on the budget position in the longer term,” Paine says. “More big projects underway means people in work and more money flowing through the economy. That in turn means a greater likelihood of further private sector investment.”
“It also means that economically-critical infrastructure is delivered sooner, and the revitalised economy can start returning tax dollars to government coffers sooner.”
The new measures come as the outlook for South Australia’s property and construction sector continues to deteriorate amid extremely weak housing conditions and increasing levels of doubt surrounding BHP’s Olympic Dam expansion project.
The measures also build upon existing measures to stimulate building and construction in the state, including an extension of the First Homeowner Grant and temporary stamp duty exemptions for new apartments purchased either in the Adelaide CBD or in North Adelaide.
Paine says the industry is far better positioned to weather the downturn than would otherwise be the case without the combined effect of these measures. He adds that the latest moves are a tangible sign that a campaign to raise awareness of the industry’s importance to South Australia is having an impact.
Weatherill stresses the plan will not result in any watering down of safety or environmental requirements for large projects.
“This won’t alter our existing planning, environmental and safety approvals system, which is the best in the nation,” he says. “But there is a sense of urgency about the circumstances of the building and construction sector. That’s why we are taking this extraordinary step to ensure that our construction industry is supported.”