A Senate committee inquiry into government coronavirus stimulus measures heard last week that only 247 applications and no payments have been made to date for the HomeBuilder initiative.
Master Builders Australia has called for a 12-month extension to the program and proposed ideas for an additional CommunityBuilder stimulus measure.
The Federal Government predicted its HomeBuilder scheme would support about 20,000 new builds and 7000 substantial renovations nationwide. It opted against passing new legislation to deliver the scheme, and is thus relying on agreements with state and territory governments. It is aware of 247 formal applications made so far, made up of 157 in South Australia and 90 in Tasmania.
In press releases issued this morning, Master Builders Australia calls for billions in stimulus measures to support building and construction and a 12-month extension to the HomeBuilder scheme, and also proposes CommunityBuilder.
"Our modelling suggests that an investment of $3.8 billion will deliver a boost of $6.8 billion to the GDP (gross domestic product) and create 13,000 new jobs," says Master Builders CEO Denita Wawn. "A 12-month extension of HomeBuilder will boost GDP by between nearly $4 billion and $4.5 billion, create more than 4500 new jobs and result in up to 6200 new dwelling starts."
Master Builders has downgraded its forecast for the housing sector by 25 percent for 2020/21 and is now predicting a 27 percent fall in home building activity compared to 2019/20. Commercial construction activity is forecast to slump by 17 percent.
CommunityBuilder would involve the Federal Government providing grants for not-for-profit and local grassroots community organisations to help fund the construction of new facilities or the substantial renovation of existing ones, Wawn says. "The Government could set the parameters at funding 25 percent of projects costing up to $5 million and, like HomeBuilder, the beneficiary of the grants would need to put up the rest of the money and also receive additional assistance from state and local government."
Despite HomeBuilders sluggish figures, Wawn believes the scheme has been effective. "HomeBuilder has resulted in home builders having the best months in terms of sales in a decade and the positive impact on building approvals will be showing up strongly in months to come.
"CommunityBuilder would have the same effect and see new or enhanced community centres, libraries, school buildings and sporting facilities," says Wawn.
She also warns about what may transpire if the Government does not provide further stimulus: "Our industry is facing a bloodbath; there is simply no other way to describe it. Private sector investment is evaporating and the Government must step in to save businesses and jobs."