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Housing : March 2009
Industry Bulletin industry news & issues Prospects for a housing recovery The HIA National Outlook, Australia’s most comprehensive report card on the residential sector, points to the prospect for recovery in the housing industry over 2009/10. HIA’s chief economist, Dr Harley Dale, says that substantial fiscal stimulus and large interest rate reductions create the conditions for an increase in housing starts next financial year. ‘The First Home Owners Boost, mortgage rates at a 40-year low, and the housing components of the federal government’s Nation Building and Jobs Plan have the capacity to deliver a moderate recovery in residential activity,’ he says. The number of housing starts is forecast to fall by 17 per cent in 2008/09 to 132,190. Housing starts are forecast to grow by 13 per cent in 2009/10 and by a further 6 per cent in 2010/11, reaching a level of 158,100 starts. ‘This is a modest increase in housing starts. Remaining challenges in the form of a lack of adequate land supply, insufficient skilled labour, and taxation of new housing, still need to be fully tackled and remedied,’ Harley says. The renovations sector, which accounts for 47 cents in every dollar spent in the housing industry, forecast to have reasonable growth in both 2009/10 and 2010/11. ‘We expect total investment in renovations to hold largely steady in 2008/09, with the risk being for a modest fall. Renovations activity hit a record worth of $30 billion in 2007/08 and our forecast is for the value to exceed $32 billion in 2010/11.’ 96 Vale Norm Bale HIA’s longest surviving founding member died in Melbourne on 11 December last year. A stalwart of the housing industry, Norm Bale’s involvement in the Builders and Allied Trades Association (BATA) – later HIA – spanned several decades. Norm joined BATA in 1959 and helped to establish it as a national organisation – the HIA. He served twice as Victorian divisional president and was appointed national vice-president and treasurer in 1976, serving 13 consecutive years as national treasurer. He was also a life member of the association, and was awarded the prestigious Sir Phillip Lynch award for services to the industry in 1988. Norm grew up in Mitcham, Melbourne. In 1945, at the age of 16, he joined the army and served in Japan with a transport company. Norm and his wife Jess – whom he met when he was just 15 – were involved in forming several successful businesses over their working lives. Their first was one which Norm ‘inherited’ from the owner on his retirement and which he and Jess renamed N&J Bale Pty Ltd. After his retirement, Norm and Jess tried life in northern NSW but, missing their family, soon returned to Melbourne. Norm has been described as a caring, gentle and modest man with a high moral sense, and was highly respected at HIA. He had suffered from Alzeimer’s Disease for the last eight years of his life, and was 79 when he died at a Ferntree Gully nursing home. Apprenticeship assistance Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard recently announced a $145 million initiative to help businesses retain apprentices during the downturn. Under the plan employers and group training schemes who take on an out-of-work apprentice will be eligible for: • a wage subsidy of $1800 paid after the apprentice has been re-engaged for 12 weeks (the equivalent of $150 per week) • a further $1000 after the successful completion of the apprenticeship. The entitlement is backdated and applies to apprentices re-engaged since 1 January 2009. The program will run for two years. A further subsidy of up to $2500 is available to registered training organisations to encourage them to offer full-time training to out-of-work apprentices. The incentive is payable if the out-of-work apprentice completes the off-the-job training component. HIA developed an Apprentice Support Assistance Package in December of 2008 and is pleased that the government has adopted the essential features contained within this package. Details in respect to access to funding under the package are yet to be developed and HIA will provide further information to members when these are completed. HOUSING MARCH 2009