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Construction industry forum plots industry recovery


The Australian Construction Industry Forum has released a set of key industry-backed recommendations for where stimulus activity could be directed in the building and construction industry.

As the federal and state governments continue to quell the COVID-19 impact by injecting billions into an initial wave of construction and building stimulus packages, the Australian Construction Industry Forum report recommends that spending should be directed to residential, non-residential and infrastructure construction, with a focus on Australian-made construction products.

ACIF also said in the report government stimulus works should be spread throughout the sector “as a few large infrastructure projects will not reach the majority of the industry”.

To fast-track planning for infrastructure investments, the ACIF suggested introducing a panel to speed up infrastructure investment.

“There is a question of whether many companies will be able to survive until the economic recovery and stimulus measures take effect,” the report said.

Other stimulus recommendations include cladding remediation and bringing planned infrastructure forward such as maintenance projects, which are less dependent on material supply.

According to ACIF executive director James Cameron, the building industry’s vital contribution to Australia’s economy elevates the push for building stimulus packages to be introduced properly.

“As the building and construction sector represents almost 10 per cent of the Australian economy, and the industry employs 1.2 million Australians in over 390,000 businesses, it is essential for Australia that we get this right,” he said.

“We are calling on governments to pull forward and re-commit to spending already announced. These measures could raise building and construction activity by $66 billion over five years, which would have a very beneficial and stimulatory effect.

“This stimulus spending should be spread across residential, non-residential and infrastructure construction, with much of the spending to go to small and medium-sized enterprises, and a focus on Australian-made products in construction. Social housing should be a particular focus of residential stimulus.”

Regulatory reform

ACIF is also calling for regulatory reform and regulatory requirements to continue as normal, asking states to follow in New South Wales’ footsteps with waiving construction license fees.

The Commonwealth Government is also being called upon to shorten its payment timeframes for infrastructure projects and ensure that invoices are paid within one to five working days.

“Fast government payments on projects of one to five days would definitely assist the industry at this time,” Cameron said.

“ACIF calls for changes to government procurement processes to assist with the economic recovery and support Australian businesses and endorses the recent announcement by the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology in this regard.

“Vocational and apprenticeship courses should be further supported, with incentives for apprentices to be retained and more hired. Further, incentives for employers to take on new or out of work apprentices and bring candidates from outside the industry into entry level roles would all be nation-building.“

ACIF has several members across the industry, including the Australian Institute of Building, National Association of Women in Construction and Society of Construction Law Australia.