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Housing : July 2009
A love of the industry New HIA National President Jill Lee’s initiation into the residential construction industry was in the early ’80s when she joined the building section at Logan City Council, south of Brisbane. In 1989 she joined Paradise Homes in Brisbane as project coordinator and later moved to Tradelink Plumbing Supplies as administration manager. In 1991 Jill joined Westminster Homes and soon after became a registered builder – she was only the second female registered builder in Queensland at the time. Jill earned her license under the supervision of the company’s owner, Ron Thurecht. Ron quickly promoted Jill to general manager, and supported her career growth. ‘I will always be grateful for the opportunities that Ron gave me,’ Jill says. ‘He passed away earlier this year at the age of 72. It was such a great loss. He was the one who encouraged me to join HIA and become a committee member.’ At Westminster Homes Jill had She says ‘green is the new black’ and HIA needs to provide ‘a voice of reason’ on environmental issues. ‘At the moment we’re debating moving to six-star, but what’s next? When will it end? She wants to see more members from the regions and small business feel comfortable about voicing their concerns with HIA ‘It also concerns me that people don’t understand carbon trading. The costs for consumers and for industry are just going to be huge. ‘It’s going to impact on the price of day-to-day stuff. It’s also going to increase the cost of building materials and this could force manufacturing offshore. 18 ‘The cost of housing will also rise. There used to be a time when you bought a house and paid it off by the time you retire. Now young people are being forced to borrow more to purchase and may not be able to pay the debt back in their lifetime. ‘It really concerns me, and that’s why I think we need to get ahead of the debate so we can protect the interests of members and ensure industry can offer affordable housing.’ As far as leaving her mark on HIA, Jill says she wants to see more members from the regions and small business feel comfortable about voicing their concerns with HIA. ‘Whether it’s small, medium or large businesses, I would like to bring a culture to the national board that we are all equal. I want to encourage more members to have their say.’ Jill intends to retire from Lee Build after her two-year term as HIA the chance to work on major state government projects ranging from social housing to women’s refuges. She says the experience was ‘highly rewarding’ but after 14 years she needed change. ‘You do it for long enough and you get really good at it, but you see some hard things and you deal with people that are hard to build for. It was just time to go.’ With that Jill started her own business, Lee Build, in 2007. She runs a home renovations business with her family in Brisbane. president, to take up a more relaxed lifestyle with her husband Geoffrey. ‘We recently bought a property in Coraki [near Lismore] and I’d really like to retire to a more quiet life after I step down.’ But for now, it’s going to be anything but quiet in Jill Lee’s world. H HOUSING JULY 2009 Photo Id Photographics