• Hunter Business Chamber

Chamber welcomes construction stimulus package

The Hunter Business Chamber has welcomed the Federal Government’s building and construction industry stimulus package that will offer grants of $25,000 to assist eligible home builders and renovators with projects.

“Construction is a key industry in the Hunter – it’s the third highest employing industry after health and retail – so this stimulus will provide much-needed support for jobs and businesses in our regional economy,” Mr Hawes said.

“Construction has held up reasonably well in the Hunter due largely to contracts that were already in place. This scheme will ensure there is a pipeline of work to keep builders going through the recovery period and avoid the ‘valley of death’ scenario.

“We are also keen to see JobMaker discussions addressing the skills issue, as we know a lot of apprentices have lost their jobs due to COVID-19, despite the government’s wage subsidies.”

Mr Hawes said while a quick response from business and industry was needed to maximise outcomes of the scheme, it was important that checks and balances were in place to ensure work can only be done by licensed, reputable trades professionals.

“We welcome measures in the scheme to ensure that work can only be done by builders who were licensed or registered before the announcement of the scheme. We don’t want to see a repeat of the ‘pink batts’ scheme where cowboy operators came into the industry, with dire consequences,” Mr Hawes said.

“We note that the program only runs until the end of the year, so will need the cooperation of councils to ensure timely assessment of development applications subject to the Homebuilder program.”

Mr Hawes said that while the scheme would provide welcome support to a major industry, the Chamber would continue to advocate for similar targeted stimulus measures to assist other hard-hit sectors where many businesses were struggling or had already been forced to close.

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