Election result boosts building sector
BUSINESS confidence in the outlook for the economy and building and construction industry has surged to its highest level in three and a half years, according to Master Builders latest Survey of Industry Conditions for the September 2013 quarter.
Deputy executive director Paul Bidwell said the swell in confidence can be attributed to the strong federal election result in September and favourable economic conditions.
‘‘Master Builders is confident that these conditions will translate into increased housing activity in the coming months, on the back of positive factors such as low interest rates, solid population growth and stable employment figures,’’ Mr Bidwell said.
‘‘ The building and construction industry has definitely embraced the end of minority government, which will go a long way towards improving the uncertain political environment and providing more stability for the economy.
‘‘The September 2013 quarter Survey of Industry Conditions found that conditions in the residential sector improved for the fourth quarter in a row, although commercial sector conditions did remain challenging and conditions overall remain at less than satisfactory levels.
‘‘Fortunately, both sectors are forecast to improve further over the next three months, which is welcome news for the industry.
‘‘Another positive was the upward trend of display centre traffic, which is a sign that the recent string of interest rate cuts may finally be getting some traction in the residential market.’’
The survey showed the most critical constraint on business was the lacklustre level of demand for the tenth quarter in a row.
Master Builders Survey of Industry Conditions report provides information and analysis on industry expectations and business performance, based on a survey of Master Builders members across Queensland.
Meanwhile, the demand for skilled labour in Australia’s residential construction industry increased in the September 2013 quarter, according to the Housing Industry Association, the voice of Australia’s residential building industry.
The HIA Trades Report, a quarterly survey of builders and subcontractors, shows that the availability of skilled trades fell moderately during the September 2013 quarter, indicating an improvement in labour demand. Trade price developments were again benign with growth still slower than the rate of general inflation.
HIA chief economist Dr Harley Dale said ‘‘The availability of residential skilled labour has now been in surplus for 10 consecutive quarters, but appears to have passed its peak.’’
‘‘More recently we have seen a first round new home building recovery taking hold and conditions have improved for a revival in renovations activity from a 10- year low,’’ remarked Harley Dale. ‘‘The key will be to ensure adequate policy focus and investment in skills and training.
Otherwise a structural shortage of skilled labour will hinder residential building activity, as was the case prior to the GFC,’’ concluded Harley Dale.
The HIA Trade Availability Index fell to +0.18 in the September 2013 quarter from a record +0.24 in the June quarter. Any pressures evident in the Trade Prices Index were muted. The Trade Prices Index rose 1.7 per cent over the year to the September 2013 quarter, lower than the inflation rate. ‘‘If what we are seeing now is the tentative beginnings of a residential building recovery, then we can expect further modest declines in the availability of trades,’’ said HIA director Liz Greenwood.