Numbers spell big trouble for building industry

A GOLD Coast construction boss wants the council to slash red tape after the loss of more than half the city's building jobs.

Data released by Master Builders Queensland reveals 18,000 of the Coast's 35,000 tradies were forced to find work elsewhere last year.

The Bulletin has been told many out-of-work builders have taken jobs in Brisbane and Victoria.

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"The Gold Coast has taken a real hit to jobs, losing 18,000 over the past year," Master Builders deputy CEO Paul Bidwell said.

"The statistics paint a clear picture of the tough year that's been, with the forecast for 2020 looking equally as tough.

"Building works completed (statewide) during the year to September 2019 was down 9.2 per cent over the previous year totalling $20 billion."

Across the state the number of new houses under construction fell 26 per cent compared to 2018.

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The amount of building activity has slowed in the past year.
The amount of building activity has slowed in the past year.

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The tough time has sparked calls for the Gold Coast City Council to consider reviving its "Construction Kickstart" incentive scheme which slashed infrastructure charges for "shovel-ready" projects.

The 2013-14 scheme fuelled a 20 per cent spike in development applications, and a 111 per cent increase in residential projects, injecting more than $885 million into the economy.

The scheme involved the slashing of council infrastructure charges by 50 per cent for all projects that began construction within six months of approval.

Master Builders Gold Coast Regional Manager John Duncalfe
Master Builders Gold Coast Regional Manager John Duncalfe

Master Builders Gold Coast boss John Duncalfe said a similar stimulus scheme was needed.

"You just have to look at the success of the boost given to the local housing construction grant which is being given out in Rockhampton. The data shows this has clearly started to get traction," he said.

"There are still people out there who want to build but they just need the impetus."

Mayor Tom Tate said construction was a major pillar of the Gold Coast economy, along with tourism and health.

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Mayor Tom Tate. Picture Glenn Hampson
Mayor Tom Tate. Picture Glenn Hampson

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"Ensuring the city has a strong economy is one of our priorities and like Master Builders I have real confidence in the industry," he said.

"Kickstart was used as a last line of defence at a very difficult time off the back of the global financial crisis and it worked.

"My door is always open to industry leaders to discuss the issues affecting them."

A Bulletin report late last year showed the number of development applications fell 13.4 per cent in the first quarter of this financial year, compared to the corresponding three-month period last year.

There’s light on the horizon for builders.
There’s light on the horizon for builders.

The number of applications being turned into bricks and mortar, with plumbing applications declining 69.5 per cent.

Plumbing applications are made by developers as an immediate precursor to construction beginning on their project and are seen as a bellwether for the strength of the building industry.

But Mr Bidwell said there was "light at the end of the tunnel".

"Demand for industrial buildings is expected to be strong while demand for offices will bounce back in 2020," he said.

"Beyond 2020, modest growth in commercial building work is anticipated to climb."



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