There is persistent and widespread weakness in the home building industry in Australia, according to the latest Trades Report from the Housing Industry Association, the voice of Australia’s residential construction industry.
The HIA Trades Report, a survey of builders and sub-contractors, highlights a significant increase in the availability of skilled labour in the June 2012 quarter.
“A synchronised decline in new home building and renovations activity in 2012, which sees the former sector back in recession, is reflected in the highest availability of skilled labour reported since the HIA trades survey began in 2002,’ said HIA chief economist Harley Dale.
‘Tens of thousands of trades people are feeling the pressure of persistently weak residential building activity, while the loss of skilled labour to the resources sector will intensify the longer recessionary conditions persist,’ he pointed out.
‘Governments have a crucial role to play in delivering investment and reform to boost housing activity. Furthermore, now is the time, during cyclical weakness, for policy makers to accelerate reform and investment in skills and training to avoid labour re-emerging as a constraint on a future housing recovery,’ he added.
Meanwhile, the HIA has welcomed the announcement by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) that it will convene an inquiry into the cost of construction.
‘The housing industry is supportive of a thorough review of the costs associated with construction. The high costs of construction, whether due to excess taxation on new housing or the myriad of red and green tape, impacts on housing affordability for Australians,’ said HIA managing director Shane Goodwin.
‘The housing industry is particularly pleased to see the very broad scope of the Terms of Reference for the review, which we believe will give the expert panel valuable insights into the problems facing the industry and hopefully will be the source of some good policy recommendations,’ he explained.
‘The announcement of the review is timely given the dire straits in which the industry finds itself, as evidenced by the collapse in housing approvals to levels last seen during the global financial crisis,’ he added.