Building work approval dropped by 7.3 percent across Australia in July 2019 - the weakest monthly result since late 2016.
The figures, reported by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, further highlight the struggles being faced across the nation's building industry.
Master Builders Australia is calling on government intervention to curb a precipitous drop forecast over the next five years.
"Building activity is being hit by low expectations around the economy’s short-term growth prospects. We want to see government policies such (as) incentives for businesses to invest as well fast-tracking infrastructure construction to help kickstart activity," says Master Builders Australia CEO Denita Wawn.
The drop in work approval rates is the result of various factors. In the residential market, apartment and unit approvals dropped 19.6 percent from June, while new home figures hit their lowest point since January 2013. Overall, residential approval rates have not been this low since the middle of 2012.
It's not any better in the commercial sector either.
"Up until recently, commercial building activity had been one of the economy’s good news stories," says Shane Garrett, chief economist for Master Builders Australia.
"However, things are moving in the wrong direction here too. In July, the value of commercial building work receiving approval declined by 9.9% compared with the previous month.
"Right across the spectrum, there appears to be a real absence of confidence and today’s figures confirm that building activity is paying the price."
Garrett goes on to say that tangible evidence of progress in construction work would provide much needed confidence in the economy, and not just from builders.
"People and businesses also need tangible evidence that things are moving forward. Getting work started on major infrastructure projects as soon as possible would visibly demonstrate that better days are ahead for our economy.
"As well as offering an instant boost to flagging demand, the installation of new infrastructure unlocks possibilities and opportunities, and allows for the creation of more homes and new businesses – the nuts and bolts of economic growth."