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COVID-19: member update #2

March 22, 2020

As the impact of COVID-19 evolves and reaches into all of our businesses, and at multiple levels, I wanted to share with you the steps that HIA is taking to ensure continuity of member support and our advocacy to governments on your behalf.

HIA will continue to provide help, information and advice for members

I’d like to assure you that HIA’s offices remain open. Like you, we are taking steps to maintain safe and healthy workplaces for HIA staff, and making necessary changes to ensure service continuity – we are committed to seamlessly providing the help, information, advice and support our members need at this difficult time.

Information regarding changes to the delivery of our events and training program is being provided to members registered for these programs.

HIA staff, in particular our Workplace Services team, are available by phone or email, to answer questions you may have.

Getting the information you need

As noted earlier this week, all HIA members can access a dedicated COVID-19 page on HIA’s website which provides easy access to the various business information and FAQs to assist members answer the myriad questions that are emerging each day. Please share this link with your staff.

New information has been included addressing impacts on your contracts, managing employee leave, and a template health sign for your business to use.

Support for business

Last week’s ‘first step’ federal stimulus response delivered a range of measures to assist small and medium business and included support for apprentices. The apprenticeship wage subsidy will assist in maintaining employment continuity for apprentices across the industry.

State governments have also announced a series of support measures for business, and more is expected in the coming days and weeks.

A summary of the Federal and State government stimulus packages has been included on HIA’s COVID-19 page.

The voice of the industry

As you would expect, HIA has been speaking to Federal and State governments about the importance of the residential building industry and promoting our industry’s ability to actively lead Australia’s economy through the challenges ahead.

The economic shock that is playing out on the global economy will continue to bear down on Australia’s economic landscape. Domestically, consumer sentiment and spending is already affected, with many members sharing feedback with me that customer enquiries have fallen.

It is important that Governments act now to stimulate demand and support housing activity.

The residential building industry has a proven record during times of national economic hardship – post GST and post GFC. Jobs, business, national productivity, and even taxation, all benefit from strong residential building activity. 2020 is no different.

The residential building industry’s workforce is not subject to the same COVID-19 related issues confronting commercial, retail, entertainment and similar industries that operate from offices and within enclosed spaces. Residential building sites are typically small scale, with less than ten workers at any time, on projects that are open to the air, with a workforce that typically travels in private or company vehicles rather than by public transport.

Our workforce meets the Government’s policy objectives relating to COVID-19 challenges. Further, a large majority of the building products and materials used are Australian made and demand can be met over the coming months.

HIA has called on the Federal Government to act now to ensure that tens of thousands of small businesses remain open, hundreds of thousands of workers can continue working on housing projects, many more workers across our manufacturing sector remain employed, and equally importantly, that our national demand for new housing can be met. Our call for action is targeted towards activity in the second half of the year - by stimulating new home buyers and new home building now.

Staying engaged

I thank you for the feedback many of you have provided me on the supply and demand impacts on your business and I would appreciate continuing to receive your insights along with any suggestions for Government over the coming days and weeks.

I hope that over the coming weeks and months your business is able to manage the complex decisions that will arise and that you are able to maintain activity in what are extremely challenging times.

HIA will continue to work on your behalf to promote the importance of the industry and the importance of housing.

Our industry is well placed to assist in Australia’s economic recovery.