Desperate builders call for $44m relief, stimulus to survive
THOUSANDS of construction workers are demanding the State Government spend millions on building projects and waive $44 million worth of licence fees to help the sector limp through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Master Builders Queensland expects construction work to dry up in the next few months for many of its 8500 members as building approvals fall and few new projects begin.
Master Builders Deputy CEO Paul Bidwell said pressure was mounting on the State Government to pull economic levers and kickstart the slowing sector.
"The Queensland Government has said they're going to send a note to everyone about what they're going to do about COVID but we're yet to see that," he said.
"We said there were some things you could do to make things easier such as waiving licence fees and extending working hours.
"The next thing we're looking at is what things is the government going to put on the table … a social housing development, a beefed-up grant program for new constructions, or bringing forward capital expenditure."
He said Queensland was yet to follow in the footsteps of other states, like New South Wales, which has reduced licence fees and given builders breathing room during COVID-19.
Licence fees, which cost between $374 and $2622, netted the $44 million to the Queensland Building and Construction Commission in the previous financial year.
Mr Bidwell said a previously-announced expansion of worksite hours was "a dud", with only six builders using the ability.
Hallmark Homes director Anthony Gilbertson said work was continuing on new-home builds, but future inquiries had dried up significantly.
"Because we've still been allowed to construct houses, the forward pipeline of work starts to get very empty," he said.
"We can't get JobKeeper because we can't show much of a revenue decline … but our revenues will decline.
"In six to eight months the industry will be suffering."
Mr Gilbertson said the State Government could assist by beefing up first homeowner grants or encouraging developers to release land.
"I don't see the building industry recovering back to any proper volumes for the next two or three years," he said.
Minister for Housing and Public Works Mick de Brenni said the government was consulting with building and construction organisations through its Ministerial Construction Council.
"The MCC is monitoring how COVID-19 is impacting businesses and is advising our government on the best way to help industry get through the economic situation created by COVID-19," he said.