Fears Mackay building jobs on chopping block by August
BUILDING industry leaders fear Mackay construction jobs could take a dive as early as August if contracts dry up from the coronavirus pandemic.
New forecasts from the Housing Industry Association predict the demand for new homes to be built will fall almost 50 per cent, putting half a million jobs at risk over the next year.
Master Builders Mackay Whitsunday regional manager Malcolm Hull said the industry was "quite healthy" at the moment because builders were still working on contracts signed before the pandemic hit.
"When that comes to an end, we're a bit concerned about what the next round of contracts will be like," Mr Hull said.
"The building industry will start to see a downturn come August, September and October."
HIA managing director Graham Wolfe said in the past financial year, the industry engaged more than on million people to start building almost 200,000 homes.
"Next year, we expect to start just 112,000 new homes leaving up to 500,000 jobs at risk," Mr Wolfe said.
"The shock to the economy from the halting of overseas migration, the absence of student arrivals and uncertainty over the domestic economy will see the market at a lower point in December 2020, than it was during the 1990s recession.
"This shock will reverberate through the residential building industry, up and down the supply chain."
Mr Wolfe warned employment in the sector was not expected to recover within the next two years.
Master Builders deputy chief executive Paul Bidwell said the first stage of the State Government's economic reset, announced on Tuesday, was the "lifeline our industry desperately needs".
The association will ramp up calls for more assistance in stage two of the Economic Recovery Strategy, he said.
"We're calling for a new look homeowners grant introduced to the tune of $40,000, to deliver a lifeline to the new home sector and supercharge the state's stalling economy," Mr Bidwell said.
"We're also anticipating the Queensland Government will make an announcement soon on their intentions to ease off on new building regulation and address the issue of liquidated damages."
Housing Minister Mick de Brenni said he had been meeting regularly with building industry leaders about the current challenges.
"When I meet again with industry leaders early next week, we will continue discussions on COVID-19 impact and responses," he said.
"I have asked them to work toward a blueprint covering all aspects of the industry, that is evidence and consensus based, practical and focussed on the number one priority of protecting the jobs of Queensland tradies."