policy

Our voice

While 2020 has been a year like no other, HIA did not skip a beat, and continued to provide advice and services to members and the broader industry when needed most.

Cath Hart, HIA Executive Director – WA with Peter Tinley, WA Housing Minister

Author

Kristin Brookfield

HIA Chief Executive – Industry Policy

HIA remained ‘open for business’ despite the challenges brought on by a global pandemic and it is fair to say that in 2020 the Association’s mission statement was never more meaningful: 

To promote policies and provide services that support our members’ business practices, products and profitability, consistent with the highest standards of professional and commercial conduct.

HIA worked tirelessly, in every state and nationally, to deliver for members – to work with all levels of government to support the industry’s ongoing activity, and to continue to provide help, information and advice when members were striving to keep up with the changes. 

Promoting policies

Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, HIA worked closely with governments and sought their support to ensure the housing industry could continue to operate. We achieved a number of wins over the past ten months and provided an extensive body of information and services to assist not only our members, but also the industry as a whole. 

Keeping sites open 

In the initial stage of the crisis, HIA gained government support to keep residential building sites open and this remained under all levels of restrictions to date. While the current Victorian restrictions have severely limited operations – particularly trades attending multiple sites, the closure of renovation work in occupied homes and the closure of display homes – it is clear that without the efforts of the Association and members, prior to and during the lockdowns, these restrictions would have been more severe. 

 
policy

HIA Managing Director Graham Wolfe with federal Minister for Housing Michael Sukkar

 

Working with governments

Nationally, HIA was in contact with the federal, and state and territory governments from the start of the crisis – and those conversations continued as issues inevitably arose. 

The announcement of the $25,000 HomeBuilder grant occurred within two weeks of HIA taking a public position on the impact the shutdown was having on home building. The Association provided the Treasurer and Housing Minister with advice on a stimulus package before and after its announcement, including resolving early issues with definitions and timeframes. 

While it took far too long for the states and territories to sign the national partnership agreement, HIA’s close work with each government to finalise the application process saw further wins that made the grant process more practical. 

HIA’s efforts nationally contributed to the Australian Government committing to: 

  • a 50 per cent wage subsidy for all existing apprentices employed by small business 
  • ensuring the wage subsidy was applicable to Group Training Organisations
  • a commitment of $680 million for the HomeBuilder grant to stimulate new home and renovation projects, and ensure a pipeline of activity in FY 2020/21
  • gaining a three-month extension on the time to commence building work under HomeBuilder
  • gaining a revised definition of building contracts to recognise the different types of contract used
  • gaining an extension of HomeBuilder to spec projects that commenced work after 4 June for contracts signed between June and 31 December to purchase
  • gained support from the Australian Tax Office for HIA’s guidance information on the assessment of turnover for JobKeeper 1.0 to recognise the unique cash flow in residential building businesses
  • successfully lobbied for an additional 10,000 places in the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme dedicated to new homes.
 
policy

Kristin Brookfield, HIA Chief Executive – Industry Policy; HIA Tasmanian President Xavier Wakefield; Tasmanian Minister for Building and Construction, Elise Archer; Stuart Collins, HIA Executive Director – Tasmania.

 

Providing Services

2020 bushfires

While HIA members living and working in the bushfire affected areas across Australia were fortunate to have limited losses, the impact on the industry in these areas will be felt well into 2021. HIA staff called members in each of the affected areas and provided support where practical. A call out to the broader membership showed the strength of the Association, with offers to provide services and tools received and shared. 

Open resources

HIA’s dedicated COVID-19 webpage provided a simple way for anyone in the residential building industry to access resources on safety, business support and regulation changes. Combined with regular member alerts, ensuring timely information on the rapidly changing environment has been a priority for the Association. 

Making space on site initiative

Given the importance of safety during the crisis, HIA released the first ‘Making space on site’ guideline on 24 March for new house sites. Since then the initiative has grown to include seven guidelines covering new home sites, renovation projects, small commercial projects, kitchens and bathrooms, display homes (by state), along with guidance for new home buyers and homeowners. The new home guide and renovation guide was published in five languages – English, Hindi, Korean, Mandarin and Vietnamese.

The HIA SafeScan Site Induction QR code was released on 9 April to assist people entering a work site to complete a contactless COVID-19 Site induction. To date, the combined downloads of the Site Induction poster and completions of a site induction have reached more than 45,000. 

In August, Site Manager, a second QR Code, was released for sale, providing businesses with a branded QR code that can be used to sign in all workers and visitors to a site.

Member servicing

The bulk of member servicing during coronavirus has been through virtual platforms – phone, email and website, along with virtual meetings and events. HIA’s national team of workplace, building and planning services, assisted members throughout the pandemic. In the early stages of the Victorian shutdown, the team fielded more than 600 calls a day from Victorian members. 

HIA Training reacted quickly to restrictions and within the first month of the pandemic moved more than 500 students onto online learning. This has continued even as restrictions ease and we are now looking to develop our online training offer further into 2021. 

 
policy

Cath Hart,  HIA Executive Director – WA with Peter Tinley, WA Housing Minister

 

What’s next?

HIA will continue to engage with governments to ensure the working arrangements for our industry are practical and cost effective, while meeting the needs of government to reduce the COVID-19 risk. To date, the efforts of the industry operating appropriately should be applauded. 

As the year draws to a close it is difficult to comprehend what 2021 will bring, but the Association remains strongly placed to continue to support our members, and to work with government to deliver a practical and effective working environment for the residential building industry. 

 

Working for HIA members in 2020

Queensland

  • Secured the exclusion of small builders from additional accounting rules to demonstrate Minimum Financial requirements
  • Secured $700,000 in Construction Skills Queensland funding for apprentices and business support delivered through HIA 
  • Successfully lobbied for the introduction of a $5,000 Regional grant for any home construction in regional Queensland

New South Wales

  • Won the SafeWork NSW award for outstanding work health and safety support to members during COVID-19
  • Secured changes to Security of Payments rules to apply rapid adjudication to homeowners
  • Gained an increase in the price caps for first home buyer stamp duty exemptions to $800,000 house and land, and $500,000 for vacant land

Australian Capital Territory

  • Worked with members of the Legislative Assembly to knock out a Greens Planning Bill that would have seen embodied greenhouse gas emissions included in the approval process for a home, and greater rights for third parties appeals
  • HIA was appointed by the Suburban Land agency as the industry partner for the upcoming Whitlam display village in Canberra’s newest suburb
  • Provided technical and business support for members during the summer South Coast bushfires, including recovery seminars

Victoria

  • Successfully lobbied to keep domestic building sites open during Stage 4 restrictions, expand the permitted workers (numbers and types) allowed on sites, reopening of display homes, and outdoor renovation work and non-essential maintenance and landscaping
  • Gained support from the Victorian Government to reference the HIA Making space on site guidelines in all COVIDSafe requirements for domestic building sites
  • Gained a delay in the introduction of trade registration and licensing to allow industry to manage COVID-19

Tasmania

  • Gained support to introduce the $20,000 Tasmanian HomeBuilder grant to top up the federal HomeBuilder grant 
  • Worked with government to make Tasmania the first state ‘open for business’ for HomeBuilder
  • Secured $70,000 in TBCITB funding for HIA to develop online business skills training for residential building businesses 

South Australia

  • Worked with the SA Government to adopt a practical definition of commencement for the HomeBuilder grant as ‘site excavation’
  • Successfully lobbied to have the introduction of the new Design Code delayed from July 2020 to March 2021, along with key amendments for tree planting, stormwater and other changes, to reduce the potential costs for new housing

Western Australia

  • Gained support to introduce the $20,000 WA Building Bonus for new houses – owner occupied and investors
  • Gained additional funding for the WA Building Bonus and an additional six months to commence work under the scheme
Northern Territory
  • Commenced 34 apprentices in Certificate III in Carpentry at the HIA Skills Centre
  • Gained support to extend the NT Home Improvement Scheme with $30 million to fast-track 5000 renovation projects.
     

Not an HIA member yet? By joining Australia’s largest national association for the residential building industry, you’ll get access to a range of member benefits, as well as industry products and business services designed to help you manage, operate and grow.

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