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Published on 6/3/2020

Published by marketing@concretebroker.com.au

The construction sector is set for a post-coronavirus boost

Your next home renovation project could benefit


Source : abc.net.au

By political reporter Jade Macmillan

Cover Photo (ABC News: Chris Gilette)


The Federal Government has flagged extra support for the residential construction sector amid fears of a major slowdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

It's looking to ward off hundreds of thousands of job losses that have been projected under the most dire warnings of a 40 per cent downturn in new construction.

Here's what's actually being considered and what could be in it for you.

Why does the Government want to give extra money to construction?

Many construction sites kept going during the coronavirus shutdowns, but the industry is warning of a "valley of death", with the potential for hundreds of thousands of job losses, once existing projects are completed.

The Master Builders Association says the lag time between a project being signed off on and construction starting means it usually takes six months for the biggest impacts of an economic shock to be felt, and that forward contracts could fall by 40 per cent without government intervention.

Coronavirus update: Follow all the latest news in our daily wrap.

Reserve Bank Governor Philip Lowe has also weighed in, telling a Senate committee that construction is one of the sectors which could feel the longer-term impacts of COVID-19.

A wide shot of a patio with decking in a backyard with a pool in the background and a table and chairs on the deck.

Construction, including home renovations, is expected to receive a boost.(Pexels: NTWRK)

"Many businesses, particularly in construction and professional services, had a pipeline of work, so when the shutdown occurred that work could be done," he said last week.

"But what we're hearing through our liaison is that that pipeline is being worked off. As that pipeline gets worked off, if it is not replaced by new jobs and new contracts, we could see weakness in construction and professional services."

The industry estimates that more than 1 million people are directly employed in the construction sector, with a further 440,000 jobs dependent on it.

What's going to be offered?

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the housing construction sector is one which will "endure more of the pain for longer", even as the broader economy recovers from the pandemic.

He hasn't given details of exactly what extra support is being considered, other than to say it will be aimed at supporting jobs and creating new ones.

Stay up-to-date on the coronavirus outbreak

The ABC understands a package worth over $1 billion is set to be announced, with means-tested grants focused on residential construction and renovations.

"We recognise that it's a long supply chain," Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said on Monday.

"It's not just the sparkie and the plumber and the carpenter on the building site, it's also the timber mill, it's also the appliance manufacturer for the new kitchen. It's also those who help with the materials that go into the bathroom."

It's also understood the Government will require recipients to make a sizeable investment themselves to be eligible for the grants. It's unclear how that might affect smaller renovation projects.

An announcement is expected to be made by the end of this week.

But not all homes will be eligible

Labor says any support package must include money for new social housing, but that's something the Government appears unlikely to include at this stage.

A high-contrast shot showing two men emerging from shadows into sunlight.

Labor wants to see social housing included in the scheme.(ABC News: Nick Haggarty)

"No serious, comprehensive plan to deal with the building industry can leave social housing out," Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers said.

"Social housing is good for jobs now and it would have a lasting benefit for Australians doing it tough into the future."

The Opposition has also called on the Government to build more affordable rentals for low paid workers on the front lines of the fight against coronavirus, and to expand the first home loan deposit scheme so that more people can purchase a home with a deposit of as little as 5 per cent.

Will the Government be giving support to other areas?

The Government has also hinted at more support for the arts sector, which has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic, with productions cancelled and many workers unable to access the JobKeeper wage subsidy.

Arts Minister Paul Fletcher said he had been holding regular discussions with the industry about what was needed but would not be drawn on the detail.


To keep the COVID-19 outbreak under control we need to keep growth factor below 1.0

Find out more about the Pandemic here with the ABC APP


"We're not in a position to be making any announcements yet but we are looking at the issues," he said.

"If and when there's more to say, we'll have more to say."

Labor says the most important support the Government could offer the arts sector is to expand the JobKeeper eligibility.


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