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Policy Priorities

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Looking ahead, HIA is identifying the key issues facing home building during the next five years. HIA Policy Priorities 2021-2025 shows where our advocacy will focus to deliver the best working environment for members into the future.

HIA’s policy priorities for 2021-2025 outline the actions and areas of focus that governments should collectively support. This should ensure the housing industry can deliver the homes we need, where people want them and at a price people can afford. Here’s an abridged version of the eight policy priorities.

Housing matters

Housing supply underpins housing affordability and Australia’s home ownership rate. Ensuring housing supply by responding to changes in demand in a timely way should be the basis for all government actions that influence the housing market. 

Supporting the delivery of all forms of homes along the housing continuum must also be a priority. If supply falls in any one sector, it will directly affect the affordability of housing in each of the other sectors. 

The pandemic has changed people’s approach to housing. The type of homes people prefer, the location and the way they use their homes have all changed. A home has always been our haven – post-pandemic, many more Australians also see their home as their workplace, their retreat and they have refocused on their home as a key part of their future financial stability. 

Property taxes are an important source of revenue that governments use to fund essential services. However the quantum of taxes on housing are excessive and inefficient. The high levels of tax inhibit supply and detract from the capacity of the industry to deliver affordable housing to the market. Housing is already the second most heavily taxed good in Australia – it must not become the highest. 

The policy settings that emerge from governments over the next five years must recognise ‘housing matters’ and set the scene for success.

Improve housing affordability

Housing affordability is a reflection and a consequence of the level of housing supply at a point in time. While many other factors influence affordability, achieving an improvement in home ownership begins with taking actions that can deliver a responsive supply chain for new land and housing, in all forms, in all locations, year on year. 

Australia’s planning system underpins our ability to achieve a stable supply of new housing each year. The planning system has been overloaded by an expectation that it can be all things to all people – it cannot, and should not, be used in this way. The planning system must deliver land owners a level of certainty that supports building the homes we need, in a timely way. The planning system must add value, not create costs, add taxes and become the reason housing affordability declines. 

Governments must focus on supporting actions that reduce the complexity of the planning system. This should create certainty for all stakeholders and wind back the undue expectations on new home buyers to pay now for the needs of future Australians.

Deliver quality and compliant homes

Over the past five years, a focus on building quality has emerged that has generated changes in building codes and standards. It is expected this pressure will continue over the next five years. HIA will need to respond to ad hoc reforms as each state and territory seeks to solve similar problems in different ways. 

Along with this, changing community expectation is also driving changes in the outcomes a new home will be expected to deliver. These changes may not necessarily be aligned with the needs of the new home buyer. 

HIA will create and maintain a building approvals regime that is nationally consistent and fit for purpose; a building system that recognises the pressure on industry practitioners to gain and maintain the skills necessary to build quality and compliant homes; and building standards that meet the expectations of home buyers.

Let business do business

Genuine independent contracting and small business are the foundation of the residential building industry. Over 55 per cent of residential builders and trade contractors have no employees, with a further 40 per cent having between one and 19 employees. More than 90 per cent of residential builders and trade contractors are small businesses with a turnover less than $2 million. 

Of the more than $65 billion in new housing starts nationally each year, on average the HIA Housing 100 companies only build around 35 per cent, meaning the bulk of new homes are delivered by small businesses. Home renovation work is delivered by a separate cohort of the industry, generating around $36 billion in activity each year, with the majority of these being small businesses. 

While the focus is often on the ‘laws’ that create red tape and complexity, the reality is that red tape lives in the business processes and administration requirements across multiple government departments and agencies at the national, state and local level. 

Improvements that can allow small businesses to flourish need to come from changes in ‘the way we’ve always done it’ rather than changes from parliaments. Time adds cost – every day that can be saved helps someone move into a new home sooner. 

HIA will work to achieve regulatory and administrative arrangements that create a clear pathway to let businesses do business and deliver the homes and renovations Australians demand.
 

Keep our people safe

There are inherent safety risks on residential building work sites that must always be managed. Residential builders and trade contractors understand the importance of managing these risks on a daily basis. Yet the administration of safety has become complex for any business, large or small, with many construction solutions targeted at large scale projects, rather than single home sites. 

The expectations on all businesses to manage the safety of their workforce is constantly changing. Emerging industrial diseases and increased understanding of mental health needs are also placing new expectations on businesses. Keeping pace is hard. Keeping pace takes time, requires ongoing education and support, and most importantly a commitment by all stakeholders to work together to deliver outcomes that are practical and achievable. 

HIA will continue to make safety management in residential building easy to understand and practical to achieve on housing sites. This will ensure we keep our people safe.

 

Build careers for the future

It is recognised that the average person leaving school today will have up to 15 different jobs in their lifetime. This may mean changing careers, but for many it will mean changing roles within a career journey. A career in residential building is limitless. The industry offers a vast array of opportunities – working on the tools whether onsite or offsite, working in design or construction management, or running the company from administration to business operations. 

The pressure from the pandemic on Australia’s local workforce has generated a spike in the take-up of apprentices and trainees. This is an extremely positive side effect. These graduates will emerge into the workforce needing both technical and life skills to assist them to move through their career in the industry with greater ease. 

HIA will focus on ways to gain, train and retain people of all ages and to grow the workforce that can deliver the homes we need over the next decade.
 

Build a credible and trusted industry

The residential building industry has a long history of innovation in the development of building materials and products. However navigating the approvals, codes and standards to allow these innovations to become part of today’s building practices can be difficult.

Practitioners also struggle to keep pace with the rate of change in legislation, regulation, building codes and standards across three levels of government. 

The career opportunities across all facets of residential building are vast. While our history as a male-dominated industry is real, the reality today is that women and men are participating actively across the industry. Women and men, particularly new industry entrants, need support to grow in confidence, build their future and take up the opportunities that exist in the residential building industry. 

HIA will focus on opportunities to build a credible and trusted residential building industry that is capable and committed to delivering the homes Australians need at a quality they expect.

The voice of the residential building industry

HIA will remain focused on delivering our vision over the next five years to provide leadership for the industry and to speak with a common voice on all industry issues. As the only national membership association dedicated solely to the needs of the residential building industry, HIA gains valuable insight from our engagement with the membership. This informs our views on the needs of the industry today and into the future. 

HIA will continue to represent the views of our members and to deliver policy and business settings that meet the needs of the residential building industry.

 

To read the complete version, visit HIA Policy Priorities 2021–2025.