Residential construction can help the economy survive and bounce back

The residential construction sector has a crucial role to play in helping the economy survive the economic effects of COVID-19 and ensure the recovery is swift and strong.

The Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) has today launched ‘Helping Australia Bounce Back’ – a policy agenda designed to help sustain and rebuild the nation’s economy.

The document outlines a series of surgical steps by governments and industry that will help set a platform for supporting economic activity.

“Housing and construction is a central pillar of the economy – generating 7.5 percent of the nation’s growth and supporting 750,000 direct and indirect jobs,” said UDIA National President, Simon Basheer.

“The advice so far is building sites can remain open and the industry will play its part in sustaining work and activity as long as it is healthy and safe to do so.

“The industry wants to partner with governments on simple but surgical steps that can be taken to provide a pipeline of activity now, as well as support a swift recovery once the crisis is over.

“Australia’s residential development sector is traditionally well-capitalised, resourceful and able to move quickly once the barriers to commencing projects are removed.

“Our ideas lean on existing policies and initiatives that we know work, can be actioned easily and will provide benefits up and down the supply chain.”

The six initiatives are:

  • Releasing a second tranche of 10,000 places under the First Home Buyers Deposit Gap Scheme, but exclusively geared towards the purchase and supply of new housing stock
  • Commit to clearing the backlog of projects under assessment via the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act, including:
    – All projects that entered the assessment regime prior to July 1, 2019, be guaranteed a decision by July 1, 2020
    – All projects that entered the assessment regime prior to January 1, 2020, be guaranteed a decision by October 1, 2020; and
    – All projects that entered the assessment regime post January 1, 2020, be guaranteed a decision by January 1, 2021.
  • Accelerating investment in infrastructure projects on Infrastructure Australia’s Priority List that can support new urban development
  • Implement an incentive for state and territory governments to half the timeframes attached to major project approvals and remove regulatory barriers to ‘shovel-ready’ housing projects
  • Ensure the Commonwealth, financial regulators and banks continue to ensure a sustainable flow of credit – including bank acceptance of valuations developed in the current operating environment
  • Expand stamp duty exemption schemes, roll back barriers to foreign investment and boost build-to-rent to help underpin new land release and off-the-plan stock

“Industry values the broader economic stimulus governments and regulators have already advanced to maintain liquidity, boost cash flow and keep as many people in jobs as possible,” said Mr Basheer.

“Like every industry, we understand there will be tough days ahead – but want to collaborate with governments and our workforces on ideas to minimise the impact and maximise the recovery.”

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