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One voice: Taking a national position

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Each year, HIA’s National Policy Congress meets to consider the major issues facing the residential building industry and to provide the Association with direction for its advocacy work.

Kristin Brookfield

HIA Chief Executive - Industry Policy

This year, HIA’s National Policy Congress was fortunate to meet together face to face in Canberra, despite the ongoing impact of COVID-19. This gave members time to share and reconnect after what has been a tumultuous 12 months. 

The successful Congress took place in early May. One of the highlights was the announcement of HIA’s new National President, Alwyn Even, and National Vice-president Debbie Johnson. 

Consensus takes commitment
As a national association, one of HIA’s biggest strengths is debating and achieving consensus about how HIA should approach the policy issues that matter most to members. 

HIA’s policies are developed through a process that engages more than 1000 members each year. Each regional executive committee and the regional service committees spend time before Congress considering the issues of the day. The National Board of Directors along with the national service committees supplement the process providing a national overview of each issue before they reach National Policy Congress. 

The time and energy given by our members through this process underpin HIA’s advocacy with governments in the years ahead. It also ensures our positions are well considered and can be represented as a national position. 

HIA's Simon Norris (centre) and the team with Michael Sukkar, Minister for Housing (right)
HIA NSW Vice-President Gary Walker (left) and NSW Executive Director David Bare
Why our industry is thriving
During the Congress meeting, HIA’s National President, Simon Norris, welcomed Michael Sukkar, Minister for Housing and Assistant Treasurer. 

Over the past 12 months, HIA has worked closely with the Minister and the federal government to highlight the importance of housing for the Australian economy. This allowed the industry to operate safely and to identify solutions to the emerging pressures on home building during the pandemic. 

Michael Sukker congratulated outgoing National President, Simon Norris, for his support since March 2020, and welcomed incoming National President Alwyn Even. The Minister also recognised the efforts of HIA in providing the information necessary to guide the government’s approach to housing during the pandemic. 

He said: ‘Now 12 months later, we have an industry that’s in a healthy state. Despite some challenges, the industry is stronger than it was before the worst recession we’ve had in 100 years. This is extraordinary. One of the reasons why we’ve achieved this is the outstanding work from [HIA managing director] Graham Wolfe and the HIA team.” 

The Minister flagged several key issues that will be a focus of the government in the immediate future for housing. He expressed a desire to find a way to harness the benefits of HomeBuilder that has supported first home buyers’ return to the market in record high numbers. He also noted the challenges of returning to stable levels of overseas migration and finding ways to harness these future residents as home buyers to generate further demand for new housing. 
HIA Victorian President Stephen Bright and HIA Victoria Executive Director Fiona Nield
HIA’s New National President Alwyn Even (left) with Michael ukkar and HIA Managing Director Graham Wolfe
Following the announcements to extend the commencement times for HomeBuilder, the Minister acknowledged that the growing pressure on material and labour supply and prices are now top of mind. He invited feedback from Congress about the way businesses are being affected. While no perfect solutions were put forward, the recognition of these pressures was appreciated by the Congress. 

The Minister concluded by highlighting that housing has been an integral part of each Budget since 2017. He shared that this is a reflection of the importance housing plays in the Australian economy and that the government will continue to recognise this in the May budget. 
Forming our national position 

This year, Congress considered emerging policy issues including: 

• A strategy for safety in the residential building industry 
• The impact of ‘build to rent’ housing 
• Access to superannuation to purchase a home 
• Setting HIA’s policy priorities for 2021–25. 
The Congress also re-endorsed seven existing national policy statements which included: 
• Dispute resolution principles 
• Security of payment 
• Market power laws and the effects test 
• Proportionate liability and residential building work 
• National workplace relations system 
• Managing residential development in coastal areas (sea level rise) 
• Infrastructure charges and levies on residential development. 

Copies of these policy statements are available at the HIA Media Centre: www.hia.com.au/IndustryPolicy

Setting our 5-year policy priorities
In the past decade, HIA’s advocacy has been guided by two Strategic Policy Plans, each spanning five years. 

Work to develop a new set of priorities to guide the Association for the next five years began earlier this year. The Board, along with regional and national committees, has provided input, and a final set of priorities and goals were presented to the Congress in May. 

Congress endorsed 8 Policy Priorities for 2021–25:
1. Housing matters – addressing home ownership and housing demand issues 
2. Improve housing affordability – addressing planning and land supply issues 
3. Deliver a quality and compliant product – addressing standards and construction matters 
4. Let business do business – addressing business compliance and red tape issues 
5. Keep our people safe – addressing safety rules and onsite safety issues 
6. Build careers for the future – which covers industry skills and training issues 
7. Build a credible and trusted industry – provides a space to call out industry leadership opportunities 
8. The voice of the residential building industry – which covers HIA’s advocacy and engagement role. 
Congress also noted the proposed goals and objectives set out to achieve progress on each Policy Priority. 

More information 
For more information on federal budget 2021-22, visit www.hia.com.au

Who makes up HIA’s National Policy Congress?

• HIA’s National Board of Directors 
• Nine regional presidents 
• Nine regional vice-presidents 
• Chair of HIA’s National Manufacturers’ Council 
• Chair of HIA’s National Kitchen & Bathroom Committee