Responding to the latest National Accounts, the inextricable ties between construction activity and the broader health of the economy are once again on display, but proposed draconian industrial relations laws risk upending the industry and eroding economic growth, says Master Builders Australia CEO Denita Wawn.
The economy grew by 0.4 per cent over the June quarter. Construction increased 2.2 per cent and was the strongest contributor to gross value-added growth.
Ms Wawn said: “Productivity is the key driver of economic growth, and the IR omnibus Bill currently before parliament does nothing to foster higher productivity or to reduce the costs of running a business.
“Economic growth is essential to our members’ business success and the ability to meet the community’s residential, commercial and civil construction needs.
“A stronger building and construction industry means a stronger Australia. Every $1 million worth of building activity supports around $3 million in activity across the economy. This multiplier effect is vital to keep our economy away from the risks of falling into a recession.
“The building and construction industry accounts for around 10 per cent of GDP and is made up of over 445,000 businesses, many of whom are small businesses that are doing it tough amid a cost of living crisis and a profitless boom.
“We need to back small businesses and make it easier for them to succeed, we need to invest more in skills, cut red tape, tackle low productivity and high inflation, and critically, ensure that industrial relations laws support growth in our industry.
“Self-employed tradies and subbies have worked hard to establish their businesses, build strong relationships, and enjoy the freedom to choose how they operate.
“Make no mistake, the rights of independent contractors to be their own boss is under threat. The Government’s ‘closing the loopholes’ Bill will not foster business growth, create new jobs, or increase productivity.
“Wrapping a rope of unnecessary, complex, ambiguous, and costly laws around the industry will do nothing to speed up our efforts in tackling the housing crisis.
“We need to increase capacity and flexibility of the building and construction industry, not turn people away because it’s all too hard.
“This Bill is not about closing loopholes but opens the door for the union movement to extend their stranglehold of the industry to new sectors, including the residential sector.
“Minister Burke needs to abandon this extreme overreach and work alongside other Ministers and members of Parliament who are working constructively with the business community to move Australia forward,” Ms Wawn.