• John Lowry

What's Out and What's In?

The new federal government has announced it's priorities for it's new term in Canberra. What will this mean for industry, construction and productivity growth in Australia in the near future. Will nation-building projects be foregone to re-direct funds to other priorities?

The Australian Construction Industry Forum (ACIF), the national peak body for the construction industry ponders these questions in a recent media releases:

With the federal election now behind us, the dust is settling, and the Australian construction industry is trying to assess what it means and what the future holds. ACIF Members convened in Sydney on Monday last week to discuss how the result may affect the construction industry.

Some infrastructure projects may be delayed or cancelled to repair the budget bottom line.

Two major projects worth a combined $5.2 billion, the East West Link in Melbourne and the Perth Freight Link, are being assessed regarding whether they should still proceed, as can be read here. Further, the $14.5 billion proposed Inland Rail line is also being reviewed by the incoming government. Regardless of how one feels about the election result, a new government is a chance for renewal and fresh ideas. ACIF wishes to work in a constructive and positive manner with the new government, which has been given a mandate by the Australian people.

The recently released ACIF Forecasts showed that whoever won the election, residential and infrastructure construction are set to increase over coming years, with non-residential construction expected to experience a slight decline. So while there is much uncertainty in these times, the ACIF Forecasts give us a guide as to what we might expect.

The Australian Construction Industry Forum (ACIF) today congratulated the newly-elected Labor Government on their election win on the weekend. There are many challenging issues facing the construction industry, and ACIF looks forward to working with the new federal Labor Ministry to address these issues.

Dr James Cameron, ACIF Executive Director, noted: “Skills and materials shortages in the construction industry are almost at crisis point, and this needs to be a priority of the incoming government. Otherwise we will see more companies going into administration and subcontractors and consumers getting financially burnt. Consumers require reassurance, confidence and certainty to build and invest.”

“Specifically, it would be good to know if the incoming government will support the $220 million plan announced in April by the outgoing government to increase Australian timber production.”

“The newly-released ACIF Forecasts and suggest that any new infrastructure and building programs should be rolled out with consideration of the current materials and labour shortages, rather than exacerbating them, and ACIF is willing to provide input into that process.”

“Further, the Labor Government can play a key role in improving the poor culture of the construction industry. We would like to see a more collaborative rather than a confrontational environment on construction sites.”

“ACIF is aware that it is Labor Party policy to abolish the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC). If that occurs, we would like to know what mechanisms will replace the ABCC functions of maintaining orderly and productive construction sites, making sure workers are paid what they should, and addressing sexual harassment. Improving the culture in construction is crucial to attracting and keeping women in the industry.”

Dr Cameron commented: “We would also like to see the new government take a proactive approach regarding the implementation of the recommendations of the Building Confidence Report. In 2018, State, Territory and Federal Governments agreed to implement the 24 recommendations, but progress on this has been occurring at a glacial pace in some states. A scan of what has been implemented so far would be a good first step to encourage the States and Territories to stay focused on this.”

“Finally, the incoming government needs to work with State and Territory Governments to address the issue of professional indemnity insurance in the construction industry.”

Dr Cameron added “ACIF Members met with Prime Minister Albanese in the past in his capacity as the Shadow Infrastructure Minister. We look forward to working with Prime Minister Albanese and his team to progress the major issues of the construction industry, which employs around 1.4 million Australians, and contributes around 9 percent of Australia’s GDP.

We also pay tribute to the outgoing Morrison Government for its economic handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, and helping to ensure that thousands of building and construction businesses could survive via JobKeeper, HomeBuilder and other stimulus measures.”

26 May 2022

About Australian Construction Industry Forum (ACIF)

Australian Construction Industry Forum (ACIF) is the trusted voice of the Australian construction industry. ACIF facilitates and supports an active dialogue between key players in residential and non-residential building, and engineering construction, other industry groups, and government agencies. ACIF’s focus is on innovation, collaboration, equity and sustainability for the industry. ACIF Members are among the most significant associations in the industry, spanning the entire asset creation process from feasibility through design, cost planning, construction, building and management. ACIF harnesses the resources of its Members to research and develop initiatives that benefit businesses of all sizes, from the largest of construction companies to small consultancies. More information on ACIF is available from www.acif.com.au. For media comment please contact: ACIF Executive Director Dr James Cameron via info@acif.com.au

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