Builders warned of tradie cri­sis

The Weekend Post - - News - CHRIS CALCINO ed­i­to­rial@cairn­ face­­sPost www.cairn­ twit­­sPost

BUILDERS from Townsville will have to be shipped into Cairns if pre­dic­tions of a ma­jor con­struc­tion trade shortage next year prove cor­rect.

Con­struc­tion Skills Queens­land di­rec­tor of data and ev­i­dence Robert Sobyra has looked into his crys­tal ball and fore­cast a 21 per cent labour short­fall in Cairns in 2019.

He be­lieved con­struc­tion was boom­ing in Far North Queens­land with the grow­ing work­load out­pac­ing growth in ap­pren­tice­ships.

“A rapidly fail­ing un­em­ploy­ment rate which is cur­rently at 5.5 per cent, sig­nals that this con­struc­tion boom is start­ing to leave its mark on the econ­omy,” he said.

Mr Sobyra will de­liver his full prog­no­sis at an Ur­ban De­vel­op­ment In­sti­tute of Aus­tralia lunch in Cairns on Thurs­day.

Mas­ter Builders Queens­land pres­i­dent Ralf Dut­ton agreed com­mer­cial con­struc­tion work­ers would find them­selves in high de­mand but said res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ment po­ten­tial was be­ing sti­fled by miserly home valu­a­tions.

“Valuers keep un­der­valu­ing the prop­er­ties that peo­ple want to buy,” he said.

“They’ve held the mar­ket down for so long that they may succeed in hold­ing it down even fur­ther, now that the bank lend­ing is tighter.

“We be­lieve there will be an in­crease, cer­tainly in the com- mer­cial sec­tor, and that nor­mally flows on to hous­ing.”

Mr Dut­ton said valuers were ig­nor­ing the fact that Far North tourism was on a 20year growth plan with age­ing Baby Boomers putting Cairns in the hot seat.

“The rental re­turns are in­cred­i­ble,” he said.

“You can build a $375,000 house at the mo­ment and rent it for $420 a week.

“Nor­mal peo­ple can’t get loans so it’s just in­vestors mak­ing the money.”

Nev­er­the­less the com­mer­cial sec­tor, an­chored by Crys­tal­brook Col­lec­tion’s three ho­tel de­vel­op­ments, means builders will be in short sup­ply.

“If hous­ing goes as well, it is go­ing to be even worse,” Mr Dut­ton said.

“Townsville is very quiet at the mo­ment and re­ally just down the road.

“A lot of tradies will come from there, if they haven’t al­ready left to other places.”

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