23 April 2020 

“The 5.3 per cent fall in the number of building and construction industry jobs revealed in the last six weeks shown in data released by the ABS is alarming and reinforces the need for immediate government stimulus measures,” Denita Wawn, Master Builders Australia’s CEO said.

“Stimulus can’t wait because jobs are being lost now and we need to protect the livelihoods of the 1.2 million people employed by the industry around the country and the viability of the nearly 400,000 building and construction businesses that pay their wages,” she said.

“Results of a new Master Builders survey of its members shows that 73 percent have seen a substantial fall in forward work on their books of 40 per cent on average,” Denita Wawn said.

“Governments must act now because while many builders and tradies are getting by on work that commenced prior to the onset of COVID-19 that work is fast running out and new orders have fallen off a cliff, “ she said.

“This is a dangerous situation not only for the industry and the people we employ but for the country. The Treasurer and the Governor of the Reserve Bank have spoken of building a bridge to economic recovery, but no bridge will be built literally or figuratively if the building and construction industry is on its knees,” Denita Wawn said.

“The housing sector was vital in helping Australia to recover from the last major economic shock of the GFC but the impact of COVID-19 is hitting particularly hard right now. We want to see measures such as the expansion of the numbers and eligibility of the Federal Government’s First Home Loan Deposit Scheme to include anyone wanting to build a new home to help home builders keep their doors open and tackle the nation’s undersupply of housing,” she said.

“Our clear message to governments is that while we commend current measures to support business and jobs more is immediately needed. Construction contractors need federal, state and territory governments to accelerate the construction of social, defence and transport infrastructure,” Denita Wawn said.

“State and Territory governments must provide their infrastructure planning agencies with more resources so that actual construction work can commence, and Federal Government payments can be made, and money enter the economy,” she said.

“As the nation continues to be successful in tackling the health emergency posed by COVID-19 with measures to suppress its spread in the community, the focus of governments is increasingly on the measures needed to meet the resulting economic emergency. However, governments must recognise that stimulus measures cannot be deferred until social restrictions are eased, nor can they only be future focused,” Denita Wawn said.

“They must be put in place now so that the industry is in a position to drive the future economic growth necessary for a recovery in our economy and living standards,” Denita Wawn said.

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