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COVID-19: member update #12

June 19, 2020

With the ongoing relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions, governments continue to look to ways to assist us return to work and ramp up economic activity. This week a number of important changes have been announced that will assist our industry during the recovery phase. These include the:

  • release of new details on the HomeBuilder grant;
  • announcement of stimulus for Queensland home building; and
  • handing down of the annual minimum wage decision by the Fair Work Commission.

HIA gains important changes to HomeBuilder grant

Treasury has released additional details on the operation of the HomeBuilder grant which address many key questions members have been asking.

HIA has been working closely with the federal and state governments in the last fortnight to resolve these issues. The new details released today are a positive outcome for members and your customers.

The main refinements include:

  • allowing the necessary time for home buyers to arrange their finance approvals, building approvals and meet other legal requirements before work is required to commence, rather than the fixed three month timeframe initially announced;
  • clarification that a sales contract for a home purchased off the plan will be eligible in the same way as a building contract; and
  • aligning the process with the current timing of payments for first home owner grants for new homes.

These updates should remove much of the uncertainty members have expressed about projects potentially qualifying for the grant.

Finalising the remaining details in each state and territory in relation to application forms, how and when to apply, how extensions of time will be managed and when payments are received by the home owner, are expected to be provided by each state and territory office of revenue. HIA will advise members when these details are available.

HIA’s information sheet What you need to know - Home Builder has been updated to reflect this new information.

Queensland announces stimulus

The Queensland government announced additional stimulus measures on Wednesday to support home building activity. The package includes:

  • $100 million for social housing construction to deliver 215 new housing units;
  • $50 million for SEQ local governments to carry out minor works and projects;
  • $106 million to continue the existing $15,000 first home-owner grants and introduce an additional $5,000 regional building boost for buyers of a new home (with the home being owner occupied and valued up to $750,000) in a regional location;
  • $10 million to continue providing services for seniors and people with disabilities to conduct critical home maintenance; and
  • $1.175 million for regional training infrastructure to upgrade existing TAFE training campuses.

Details on the package are available from the Queensland government.

Fair Work Commission signs off minimum wage decision

This morning the Fair Work Commission handed down its minimum wage decision, awarding a 1.75 percent increase, markedly less than last year’s 3 percent rise and setting different start dates between July this year and February next year.

While it is clear that the pandemic impacted the Commission’s decision, it did not go as far as the minority decision that recommended no increase.

In an unprecedented move the increase will commence in a staggered way across the economy to reflect the severity of the impact of COVID on different industries.

Those covered by, for example the Building and Construction General Award, Joinery and Building Trades Award, Timber Industry Award and the Clerks Private Sector Award were held to have been adversely affected justifying a delayed commencement of the increase to 1 November 2020.

For those in industries such as front line health care, teachers and childcare workers the increase will commence on 1 July. In contrast those in industries most adversely affected by the pandemic, such as tourism and retail, will not be required to pass on the increase until 1 February 2021.

Today’s decision rejected union calls for a 4 percent increase. The Commission noted that to award such an increase in the present economic circumstances would adversely affect employment.

HIA will update its modern award wage rate information sheets to reflect the new rates of pay.

If you wish to confirm that you are on the HIA Award update service please email enquiry@hia.com.au with your HIA member number and applicable award.