Like many sectors, the construction industry has experienced some job losses and project delays as the 2020 global economic downturn has taken hold. But as the recovery phase begins, growth in construction can have a ripple effect across the wider economy, creating jobs at all levels, in a range of affiliated industries.
The diverse nature of construction will therefore allow it to play a unique role in sustaining and restoring growth in the Australian economy.
Significant steps are now being taken to boost construction industry opportunities. Project approvals are being fast-tracked; trading hours have been extended; legislative changes are being made to improve access to funds; and considerable investment is being channeled into building a strong pipeline of infrastructure projects.
Here are some of the highlights from around the country.
New South Wales
In New South Wales a wide range of measures have been implemented to streamline construction industry approvals, with re-zoning and development applications with local and regional significance taking priority. Support is being offered to progress projects that become ‘stuck in the system’, and additional resources will help clear the backlog of projects stuck in Land and Environment Court disputes.
New South Wales is also considering expediting the assessment and approval of critical health and education infrastructure. $70 million has been committed to co-fund community infrastructure projects in North West Sydney, unlocking future housing construction opportunities. And it is hoped that legislative changes will make it easier for councils to access infrastructure funds to support the creation of jobs.
Victoria recently announced $2.7 billion in funds to boost construction, overseen by the newly created Building Victoria’s Recovery Taskforce. Following a development approval blitz, the Taskforce will investigate planning and investment opportunities to grow the building and construction industry in Victoria. The taskforce’s initial focus is on finding ways to deliver existing projects more efficiently, and fast-tracking planning approvals to speed up the commencement of new projects. Considerable infrastructure investment will focus on building new schools; school facility upgrades and relocatable buildings; and tourism infrastructure.
To boost construction in WA the State Government recently brought forward the roll out of a major planning reform package, as well as the Housing Investment Package – a $150M stimulus program to invest in trade employment and provide a much-needed boost for the WA housing market. WA is also looking at how to make planning approvals easier for significant job-creating projects.
$140 million of road and maritime projects will be expedited in WA through a new state-wide Construction Panel Contract – formed to help fast-track transport construction project approvals. And two WA rail projects have been added to Infrastructure Australia’s Priority List.
South Australia recently announced details for a staggering $12.9 billion investment in state infrastructure. These funds will support 80,000 construction jobs, and enable the construction of road, health, education and water infrastructure. The state government will also fast-track $120 million in funding for council projects, with a spending focus on regional roads.
In response to COVID-19, the Tasmanian state government has committed $150 million to fund a ‘no interest loan scheme’ for local councils, supporting job creation and allowing local government infrastructure to be upgraded. In November 2019 the Australian Government also announced $173 million to accelerate funding for major Tasmanian infrastructure projects.
Queensland will invest $200 million to extend the successful Works for Queensland program, supporting new jobs and construction projects. The state government has also confirmed its commitment to maintain $50 million in infrastructure spending over the next four years – despite economic pressures in the recovery from COVID-19. Infrastructure investment will focus on accelerating works for road, bridge and pavement sealing, and expanding tourism infrastructure.
In the lead up to the ACT state elections there’s been little agreement between the major political parties on which infrastructure projects should take priority. But in the wake of COVID-19 there is consensus around the need for a considerable boost in investment to stimulate jobs and encourage economic growth.
Local councils in all states and territories will also share in $500 million of national funds to build roads, community infrastructure and boost construction employment.
Roadblocks to recovery
Despite considerable investment and focus on developing construction industry opportunities, supply chain issues still have the potential to cause project delays. Some factors impacting the supply of materials, and the completion of construction projects, include:
More encouragingly, the supply of hire equipment to the Australian construction industry remains stable. With over 160 branches Coates Hire continues to offer quality hire equipment – whenever and wherever customers need it – to keep construction moving.
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