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Building giant warns 1.2 million housing target unlikely

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Tradie shortages, high material costs and delays in building infrastructure are being blamed for what is estimated will be a national shortfall of more than 110,000 homes. 

While the federal government is spruiking the need to build 1.2 million homes within the next five years, Master Builders Australia says this target is domestically impossible, 

Releasing its five-year forecast this week, the national voice of the building and construction industry, paints a grim picture. 

From 1 July 2024 until 30 June 2029, Master Builders forecasts 1,087,325 new home starts. 

Construction Worker Framing A Building

“We’re seeing inflation starting to near its target range and expect a fall in interest rates which will lead to a more favourable investment market,” said CEO Denita Wawn. 

“The federal government has also announced a number of significant housing measures that focus on increasing supply in social and affordable housing and the rental market. 

“However, constraints on the supply side like workforce shortages, industrial relations changes and a poor planning system counter the full effectiveness of these measures. 

“Productivity in the industry has fallen 18% over the last decade. It’s clear that governments need to expedite the rollout of planning reforms to reduce the high costs and time it takes to build.” 

Beyond the need for more materials to sustain estimated housing supply, numbers of available workers are at a dangerous low. 

“Concerningly, the full impact of the Closing Loopholes Bills and union pattern bargaining negotiations underway in several states has not been factored into these forecasts,” adds Ms Wawn. 

“Workforce shortages continue to be the biggest challenge for the industry across all sectors. 

“At a Federal level, the government’s priority should be growing the building and construction workforce. 

“We heard only recently from BuildSkills Australia that the industry needs 90,000 workers in the next 90 days. 

“Domestically, we cannot fill this gap.  

“We need to think outside of the box with better apprenticeship incentives, reskilling migrants already in Australia, and a targeted international campaign to bring in skilled migrants.” 

While the focus has been on big development, attention needs to be redirected to domestic projects, Ms Wawn says. 

“Investment and support in the whole built environment is important. While the commercial and civil construction sectors have helped shield the economy from periods of negative economic growth, this is coming to an end. 

“We can’t build the homes we need without the appropriate commercial and civil infrastructure to support it. This includes critical infrastructure such as utilities. 

“Builders are up to the challenge to reach these targets but the barriers on the road need to be cleared to get the job done.” 

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