GOVERNMENTS at the state and territory level must work together with the Federal Government "to fast track recent commitments on infrastructure, including both transport and social infrastructure projects, in light of today’s very mixed results for building activity,” according to Master Builders Australia chief economist Shane Garrett.
ABS data released earlier indicate that the total volume of building work done in Australia dipped by 0.3 percent during the March 2019 quarter compared with the last three months of 2018. Compared with a year earlier, the total volume of building work is down by 0.9 percent.
“Commercial building is one of the economy's pillars at the moment," Mr Garrett said. "The amount of work done here rose by 3.2 percent during the March 2019 quarter and has reached a new all-time high.
"Strong population growth is boosting demand for new shops, cafes and restaurants with robust employment growth benefitting office and industrial building activity.
“In contrast, the volume of new home building has fallen to its lowest ebb since the end of 2013. This is mostly due to another sharp reduction in apartment/unit starts during the March 2019 quarter, meaning that high density dwelling commencements have lost 41.8 percent over the past year.
"Continued price falls, tight credit conditions and an absence of confidence have all contributed to the slump. As well as the obvious challenges for the building sector, the housing downturn is also holding consumers back, hurting demand in the economy," Mr Garrett said.
“The figures released this morning take into account activity only up until the end of March. Since then, there has been a bunch of very good news for the building sector with the April budget heavy on infrastructure commitments and the conclusive outcome to May’s federal election.
"We’ve had two interest rate reductions, a significant package of tax cuts passed, the relaxation of APRA’s mortgage rules -- and the new First Home Loan Deposit Scheme kicks off in January.
"We will keenly await building figures over coming months to see how all this good news affects the pipeline of activity," Mr Garrett said.
“A real opportunity now exists to get all parts of the building industry moving again. We’ve heard lots of commitments on infrastructure in recent times but the challenge now is for federal, state and territory governments to fast track these major projects and get things happening on the ground in a real and tangible way."
THIS WEEK will be an eye opener for Brisbane and regional students when they rub shoulders with mining professionals in Mount Isa and embark towards a career in a trade or science technology engineering and maths (STEM) fields.
Queensland Resources Council (QRC) chief executive Ian Macfarlane said the students would take part in two education camps run by the Queensland Minerals and Energy Academy (QMEA) and supported by Glencore's Mount Isa Mines.
“Queensland needs to encourage young people into STEM and trades to ensure the talent pipeline for future workforces is secured. Mount Isa is blessed with talented professionals with real-world experience who can kick-start blue sky thinking in young minds,” Mr Macfarlane said.
Thirty-three students from Spinifex State College, Cloncurry State School P–12, and Good Shepherd Catholic College will be guided by Glencore professionals to manufacture a motorised bicycle from abandoned bicycles supplied by Mount Isa Police.
Phil Bamber, the manager for human resources at Glencore’s Zinc Assets Australia said students who show an aptitude for a trade will be encouraged to apply for future apprenticeship intakes.
“We are very excited to provide local high school students with the opportunity to engage in practical work through the QMEA program,” Mr Bamber said.
Spinifex State College head of campus Chris Pocock said, “These events are highly valued by the students as they give them a good insight into trade careers, and what they need to be studying to achieve them,” .
Fifteen year 11 and 12 students from all over the state, with first time students from Rockhampton’s Cathedral College and Brisbane schools Somerville House and Centenary State High School, will take part in the STEM camp.
The Make it Now in Engineering Challenge will be hosted by Glencore’s Mount Isa Mines and will challenge the students across academic disciplines.
Leanne Ryder, manager for human resources and training at Glencore’s North Queensland Copper Assets said Mount Isa Mines has a diverse workforce ready to inspire the next generation of young professionals in this industry-school partnership.
“The resources sector has an increasing demand for STEM skills, and we’re excited to enable industry collaboration to continue to develop STEM in Queensland schools and also drive and grow the sector,” Ms Ryder said.
The QMEA is a partnership between the QRC and the Queensland Government under its Gateway to Industry Schools program. It has 60 schools throughout Queensland.
QRC is the peak representative body for Queensland ‘s resource sector. The Queensland resources sector provides one in every five dollars in the Queensland economy, sustains one in eight Queensland jobs, and supports more than 15,400 businesses and community organisations across the State, all from 0.1 percent of Queensland’s land mass.