Jobs on the line: Dire warning for home building sector


THE construction sector is warning of a calamity in the home building sector unless the Federal Government's popular HomeBuilder grants are extended.

Master Builders is lobbying for the program to be extended for another 12 months in the upcoming Budget to avoid a forecast 27 per cent drop in home building across the country.

Master Builders chief executive Denita Wawn warns the downturn in the sector would be "calamitous" for the nearly 370,000 home building businesses that are vital to local economies and communities.

"We want to see the Federal Government extend what has been the most effective government stimulus measure in a decade," said Ms Wawn. An estimated 11,300 Queenslanders have registered interest in the first phase of grants which ends in December.

Master Builders Deputy CEO Paul Bidwell
Master Builders Deputy CEO Paul Bidwell

HomeBuilder provides eligible owner-occupiers, including first home buyers, with a grant of $25,000 to build a new home or substantially renovate an existing home. The aim of the program is to boost the residential construction market hit by the COVID-19 shutdown.

Master Builders Queensland deputy chief executive Paul Bidwell said the grants for new homes were going "gangbusters" across the state, helping the sector ride out the COVID-19 downturn.

"One builder in Rockhampton signed 60 contracts while a bloke in Wide Bay signed 53," said Mr Bidwell. "There has been more interest in the program from Queensland than there has been from Victoria."

Mr Bidwell said as well pushing for an extension to the grants, Master Builders wants the approval process changed so banks can take the grant money into account when they look at finance applications.

"At the moment, banks cannot take the grant money into account," he said. "The risk is some of the contracts already signed may fall over because of that."

Housing development in Ipswich
Housing development in Ipswich


Master Builders has downgraded is forecast for the housing sector by 25 per cent this financial year and is now predicting a 27 per cent decline in homebuilding activity compared to the previous year.

Ms Wawn said the extension to HomeBuilder would cost taxpayers $1.3 billion but boost gross domestic product by up to $4.5 billion. "This will create more than 45000 additional news jobs and result in the construction of more than 6000 new homes," she said.

"The Federal Government showed its commitment to builders and tradies when it announced HomeBuilder Mark I and they must be given credit for that. They should now double down to secure further jobs by including HomeBuilder Mark II in the October Budget."

Originally published as Jobs on the line: Dire warning for home building sector