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Building Construction, Government Federal

CPI and engineering activity foreshadows further economic challenges

Master Builders Australia 2 mins read

26 June 2024

Monthly inflation is again heading in the wrong direction and highlights that serious action is needed to bring down building costs and increase housing supply, says Master Builders Australia CEO Denita Wawn.

Rising housing costs were one of the biggest monthly drivers of monthly inflation, bumping up from 3.6 per cent to 4 per cent, the worst result since November.

Rent prices are 7.5 per cent higher than a year ago while the cost of new dwelling purchases is up 4.9 per cent.

The ABS also released the March quarter engineering construction data today showing its first decline in two years.

The volume of engineering construction dropped by 2.3 per cent during the March 2024 quarter.

The reduction affected both public sector and private sector projects.

There was a 2.4 per cent fall in engineering construction work done for the public sector while the volume of private sector activity fell back by 2.2 per cent.

The reverse in engineering construction activity is ominous given that it was previously the main source of growth in the industry.

All three pillars of construction activity are now moving backwards.

Attributable to Master Builders Australia CEO Denita Wawn:

“Builders are pulling their hair out over their concerns continuously falling on deaf ears.

“Inflation is a capacity killer, making investment more expensive and less attractive.

“On the ground, we continue to hear projects for new homes, commercial or infrastructure construction simply don’t stack up because it takes too long to build and is too costly.

“If we don’t get inflation under control and urgently start boosting housing supply we are in for a lengthy period of pain and depressed construction activity.

“We know governments have acknowledged that more reform is needed to reduce building costs but the rubber needs to hit the road.

“Bringing down housing and rental inflation can only be achieved once we get a move on and speed up planning reforms, address tradie shortages through domestic and skills migration pathways, reform the regulatory environment, and scrap damaging elements of recent IR changes.

“Looking ahead, Australia’s economic challenges will only be compounded by new pattern EBAs rolling out across the industry which will increase costs and drag productivity backwards.

“Unfortunately, the industry, which is at the coalface of overcoming the housing crisis and delivering the essential infrastructure that communities are crying out for, has been left powerless by an increasingly aggressive construction union.

“Enough is enough. It’s time to bring back an industry-specific regulator with real teeth and restore confidence in the building and construction industry."

Media contact: Dee Zegarac, National Director, Media & Public Affairs

0400 493 071 | dee.zegarac@masterbuilders.com.au

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