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Housing : March 2009
President’s Report industryrescue plan pre-sale commitments to secure construction funding. This will unlock projects stalled by the lack of working capital caused by the recent credit squeeze. $2.7 billion has been included to meet the cost of installing free insulation in all un-insulated households, creating many new jobs in the housing industry. For those already insulated, a $1600 solar water rebate (non-means tested) will be available. The Prime Minister, Treasurer and The Australian Government has adopted HIA’s housing rescue plan as a major component of its $42 billion economic recovery plan. A fter weeks of intensive discussions with HIA, the Australian Government will provide targeted funding of $6 billion for the acquisition of new affordable housing, both multi-unit and detached. The funding will boost new home construction over the next yearand-a-half. State governments will be responsible for conducting Commonwealth Government approved tender processes for the purchase of the additional dwellings. Tenders will be structured to include spot purchases of new house and land packages to ensure both large and small builders benefit from increased construction activity. The package also provides up to $400 million for repairs to existing public dwellings. Preference will be provided to those developments that already have planning and development approvals and require 4 Housing Minister have paid special tribute to the work of HIA in developing this package. Without it, our industry was facing a gloomy outlook. My special thanks go to HIA Managing Director Dr Ron Silberberg and HIA Chief Executive – Association Chris Lamont, whose efforts were pivotal in securing this funding. The announcement of the package emphasises the need to continue to invest in training. The current slowing activity will be offset by the housing recovery plan and we will soon be talking about skill shortages again. When the upturn in activity arrives, the long-running problem of skill shortages will be even more acute if employers and the industry fail to maintain the required investment in training and apprenticeships. We need to consider future labour requirements, and this requires all members of the industry to provide as many opportunities as possible to the next generation. The federal government’s National Housing Supply Council has also been giving considerable thought to the future over the past few months. Launched by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in Sydney last May, the Council’s task was to analyse the adequacy of construction resources and land supply throughout Australia over the next 20 years, a formidable task considering it had to be completed in just six months. That report is now with Housing Minister Tanya Plibersek so details remain confidential, but the challenge for the industry will be ensuring a boost in the supply of affordable housing while managing what, in the not too distant future, will be chronic skill shortages. Our industry has met and overcome many challenges over the years. To continue to do so we must all ensure an adequate number of apprentices see residential construction as a rewarding career. The current slowing activity will be offset by the Housing Recovery Plan and we will soon be talking about skill shortages again On a final note, my deepest sympathy goes out to those who have been the victims of the fires that have swept through Victoria. The loss of life and damage caused has shocked the nation. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those ravaged by these devastating events. For those in North Queensland, who have suffered record flooding, our thoughts are also with you. Australia’s weather can be both unpredictable and needlessly cruel. However, the response the nation has already shown in helping those who have suffered at either end of the country is what defines us. I encourage all members to lend a hand where they can. H Bruce Langford-Jones HIA National President HOUSING MARCH 2009