Reform needed for flagging sector

A persistent decline in South Australian building approvals demands immediate reforms to protect jobs across the industry, Master Builders SA says.

Data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics today shows 673 new homes were approved in July 2017, down 6 per cent on the same time last year and 5 per cent on the average of the last 10 years.

About $255.2 million of new homes were approved in July, down 5 per cent on the same time last year. While this represents a 17 per cent increase on the 10-year average, the effects of inflation show the industry is falling further behind in terms of activity and value, Master Builders SA Chief Executive Officer Ian Markos said.

“We’re seeing a rapid cooling in South Australian approvals compared to this time last year, which is putting pressure on employers to hold their nerve and keep people in jobs,” he said.

“East Coast activity has been driving the national market but we’ve conceded that we’ve passed the peak – South Australia won’t benefit from that optimism, so we need to look elsewhere to support the sector and the tens of thousands of jobs it supports.

“Axing stamp duty for first homebuyers is a no-brainer, and taking a tough look at red tape on housing comes a close second.

“The State Government says every measure points to South Australia having the most affordable housing, but there’s one measure that’s ignored: the Census. When the Census tells us that the average South Australian household is spending the third-highest amount on their average housing costs, it’s a clear sign that attention is needed.

“The health of the south Australian economy is dependent on growth – and that’s clearly not happening in the building and construction sector.”

Approvals over the last 12 months show a considerable decline when compared to the previous 12 months – a warning sign that is already being felt across the industry at a time of historically low consumer and business confidence.

This release, including data tables, can be downloaded as a PDF here.