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$vuetify.icons.faPhone1300 650 620

Working hard for members

Working hard for members

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While dealing with a raft of challenges, including the most significant changes to the Building Code of Australia in a decade, HIA remains the voice of residential building by continuing to provide strong advocacy and quality services. Here’s how the Association has supported our industry throughout 2023.

Jocelyn Martin

Managing Director

With a new federal ALP government in place, we have worked tirelessly across all levels of government to support members through a range of industry challenges. This includes the most significant changes to the National Construction Code (NCC) in over a decade, economic uncertainty, labour and material shortages and cost increases. On behalf of the industry, we communicate upcoming changes and respond to government reforms and programs for new housing. 

As an organisation, we have long advocated that addressing the barriers to housing supply is fundamental to delivering the right number of new homes. The topic of housing supply has gathered momentum throughout the year off the back of the federal government’s Housing Australia Future Fund (HAFF) Bill and the announcement of a target of one million homes over five years. 

The Australian Greens entered the debate, arguing for better conditions for renters and, as a result, held back the delivery of the Bill. At their National Cabinet meeting in August, the federal government announced its New Home Bonus and a new, ambitious target of 1.2 million homes. At the same time, the government revealed details of the National Planning Reform Blueprint.

The HAFF passed through Parliament in September, and the National Housing Finance Investment Corporation (NHFIC) was subsequently renamed Housing Australia with an oversight of the Home Buyers Guarantee Scheme and improving social housing outcomes.

Industrial relations have been on the federal government agenda for the good part of the year with the introduction of the Fair Work Legislation Amendment Bill. While the government asserted its main plan was to address the employment challenges experienced by gig economy workers, we carry concerns that unintended consequences of the Bill threaten the nature of independent contracting in residential construction. In addition, the Bill proposes increased access to union delegates and significantly tougher penalties.

As an organisation, we have long advocated that addressing the barriers to housing supply is fundamental to delivering the right number of new homes.     
Jocelyn Martin, HIA Managing Director

The industry continues to deal with the impact of trade shortages. As the activity from Homebuilder declines, if the government even hopes to reach its 1.2 million target, there needs to be a greater long-term commitment to attracting and retaining people and a migration program that meets our industry needs. The government announced its National Skills Agreement in October. The promise of a more cohesive Vocational Education and Training sector and more funding for attraction and retention was welcomed by HIA.

The federal government remains committed to delivering on net-zero targets. These commitments have multiple impacts on our industry. We will continue advocating for less red tape, long-term planning and cohesiveness between government portfolios. With initiatives around electrification, decarbonisation, disaster recovery, and the cyclical economy arising from different ministries, it will be challenging to ensure a good outcome for the industry.

The debate around the proposed ban on engineered stone has dominated the work health and safety agenda. The topic is emotive, and advocates for a ban have used the media to appeal to governments and the general public. A complete ban is not straightforward, and there would need to be consideration for transition issues and the removal and demolition of engineered stone as a minimum.

We are asking governments to recognise the impact a complete ban would have on manufacturing and fabricating businesses. They have invested significant resources into ensuring that engineered stone can be handled appropriately.

All states and territories have been working hard to ensure realistic timelines, and implementation programs are in place to transition to NCC 2022. Across the country, the challenge is the need for more responsibility of state governments to put appropriate arrangements in place. Through a program of roadshows and webinars, we have provided NCC education seminars and develop resources.

Much of our advocacy work happens on a state and territory basis to improve the industry’s business outcomes, as well as gaining support for streamlined housing delivery in all forms. Below is a summary of the work the Association has undertaken in your state or territory throughout the year.

The industry continues to deal with the impact of trade shortages across the country.
The proposed ban on engineered stone has dominated the work health and safety agenda.

Australian Capital Territory

  • Successfully lobbied for a delay in the implementation of NCC 2022
  • Secured important exemptions and clarifications to NCC 2022 Accessible Housing requirements when undertaking alterations and additions
  • After years of advocacy, won changes to the ACT planning system, allowing unit-titling in land zoned RZ1 and improved subdivision options in RZ2
  • Won a delay in the mandatory training deadline for silica awareness, giving the industry a reasonable chance to comply
  • Lobbied for improvements in proposed ACT developer regulation. 

Hunter

  • Attended workshops regarding the key initiatives and implementation of the Hunter Regional Plan 2041 and the Central Coast Regional Plan 2041
  • Met with Hunter Water to provide an industry perspective on the development of an Integrated Water Management planning approach for the region
  • Contributed to the Central Coast Council Local Housing Strategy, advocating on behalf of the sector on how best to implement local actions
  • Submission to Hunter Water to reconsider the reintroduction of developer charges for water and wastewater services in the lower Hunter
  • Discussed the future of affordable and diverse housing in Newcastle with the City Council 
  • Participated in Urban Development Program Committee meetings for the Central Coast, Lower Hunter and Greater Newcastle and the Upper Hunter and Mid Coast regions, advocating for the local residential building community concerning the implementation of regional plans.

New South Wales

  • Continued to drive for faster approvals by working with the government to allow more projects to be assessed outside the council using a complying development pathway
  • Successfully advocated for a delay to the original timeframe for a new Home Building Act, and a transition period of 12-18 months will be included once the legislation passes parliament 
  • Achieved additional transitional arrangements for new BASIX standards to lock in existing contracts and recognition in the legislation of BASIX certificate validity being tied to the Development Application submission date rather than the council lodgement date to eliminate the impact of council delays
  • Gained exemptions under apartment building regulations for minor installations such as awnings and canopies over windows and doors and roofed structures over balconies/terraces supporting small businesses
  • Ensured the regulator took a measured approach to auditing building businesses in NSW 
  • Successfully advocated for members in relation to the Home Building Compensation Fund (HBCF) rules to support businesses’ operations (particularly small businesses), including alleviating eligibility pressure and lobbying to remove barriers for private insurers to enter the HBCF market.
We have provided education seminars and developed resources around transition periods.
We have been working hard for members to minimise the impact of the NCC changes.

Northern Territory

  • Took the lead in supporting and advising on initial versions for the introduction of Commercial Builders Registration by the Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics (DIPL) of the NT, which comes into force in 2024
  • Win on Builder Registration, allowing our members to continue working on smaller commercial buildings without licensing requirements
  • Work to influence the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) program outlined by the DIPL 
  • HIA voiced concerns to DIPL regarding the lack of information sessions and implementation of the NCC 2022 changes, resulting in several Australian Building Codes Board seminars run by the department
  • Participating in a round table to discuss the ongoing issues of anti-social behaviour and crime in the NT and how it affects business
  • Invited by the NT Government to participate in the NT Housing Alliance to recommend changes to the system for easing land supply, red tape, affordability and planning to tackle the current housing crisis. 

Queensland

  • NCC 2022 implementation – lobbied the Queensland Government to make concessions on approved projects, small lot construction, renovations and maintaining energy-efficiency credits for outdoor areas. A delay to 1 May 2024 for the commencement of energy-efficiency provisions was forced at the last minute
  • Worked as a key stakeholder and contributor to the Queensland Government’s Housing Roundtable meetings towards solutions to the housing crisis in Queensland
  • Advocated for simplified design requirements for houses in Queensland through an updated Queensland Housing Code, which is now referenced as an upcoming deliverable of the Queensland Government
  • Secured planning reforms to limit the ability of councils to trigger planning applications through specific planning scheme overlays
  • Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) complaints process trial – working with QBCC to implement key Varghese Review recommendations. A new pilot program commences in early 2024. 
  • Submissions and contributions to the Queensland Workers’ Compensation Scheme and Queensland Home Warranty Insurance Scheme Review
  • Lobbying work around Project Trust Accounts and respirable silica code of practice implementation
  • Training and skills initiatives, which included the Queensland Women in Construction Advisory Committee with Construction Skills Queensland, the Queensland Government funded Workforce Connect Program – HIA Advanced Apprentice and Employer Mentoring Program, and the North Queensland Young Builder Mentoring Program
  • Participation in the Northern Rivers Reconstruction Round Table
  • In North Queensland, lobbying the government around first home owner grants and infrastructure plans. Participation in Cairns Regional Council Growth Strategy and Townsville City Plan 2024.

South Australia

  • Gained exemptions on NCC 2022 requirements for livability and uplift from 6- to 7-star energy rating
  • Successfully lobbied for a delay in implementation and amendments to Certificate of Occupancy requirements
  • Achieved the removal of planning consent from Master Planned Township Zones and Master Planned Neighbourhood Zones
  • Successfully lobbied Consumer & Business Services (CBS) to ensure CBS guidance materials on building supervisor obligations do not exceed the statutory requirements
  • Significant involvement in reviewing the Return to Work Act and the Impairment Assessment Guidelines, including multiple submissions and membership of the Minister’s Advisory Committee on the Return to Work Scheme
  • A range of submissions were made, including on Work Health and Safety, Return to Work, and the Construction Industry Training Fund Act.
Our advocacy work happens on a state and territory basis to improve the industry and streamline housing delivery.
HIA advocated for government to provide more support to industry for professional development.

Tasmania

  • Continued to advocate for private planning certification for housing along with the release of a Medium Density Code
  • Provided significant input into the establishment of Homes Tasmania to support the rollout of social and affordable housing through positive changes to procurement, land supply, infrastructure delivery and planning reform
  • Assisted the Tasmanian Government by providing a model for their Home Warranty Insurance Scheme that balances consumer protection, affordability and business growth
  • Contributed to the government’s Skills Strategy and Building and Construction Skills Compact, with HIA delivering industry programs aimed at apprentices, school students (youthBuild) and existing workers while implementing initiatives that improve industry diversity, capacity and capability
  • Advised government on the impact of ongoing regulatory changes to housing supply and affordability, which has led to the deferral of NCC requirements in relation to accessibility and energy efficiency
  • Advocated for the government to provide more support to industry for professional development, focusing on technical, business skills and safety compliance.

Victoria

  • Successfully moved the implementation of NCC 2022 new livable housing and updated energy efficiency and condensation mitigation requirements from 1 October 2023 to 1 May 2024
  • Provided influential advocacy to shape the Victorian Housing Statement
  • Secured planning reforms in the Victorian Housing Statement, including for single dwellings on lots bigger than 300 square metres and not covered by an overlay, which no longer requires a planning permit
  • Secured the Victorian Government’s commitment to review and rewrite the Planning and Environment Act 1987
  • Expansion of the state’s Development Facilitation Program to include eligible medium- to high-density residential projects
  • Made impactful submissions to parliamentary inquiries on the need for reforms to reduce the burden of stamp duty, ease the rental crisis, and avoid unnecessary regulation of subcontractor payments and further restrictions on the cash flow of builders
  • Gained a $500 million boost to the Victorian Homebuyer Fund, which provides eligible participants with a contribution of up to 25 per cent of the home’s purchase price 
  • Continued to engage with the government on reforms that will improve domestic building contracts, domestic building insurance and building regulation
  • Secured a commitment to review the Domestic Building Contracts Act 1995
  • Ensured policymakers were aware of the detrimental impact of the Victorian Managed Insurance Authority’s decision to increase Domestic Building Insurance premiums by 43 per cent from 1 September 2023.

Western Australia

  • Government to subsidise the wages of 150 Group Training Australia apprentices within the residential and commercial building industries for the four years of their apprenticeship
  • Construction Visa Subsidy Program – government subsidies of $10,000 to assist employers in bringing skilled migrants to help with the state construction volumes
  • Supported the state government’s planning reform agenda, which included streamlining the approval process for single dwellings
  • The state government has adopted a Housing Supply Unit in response to HIA recommendations. We observed that the sector was affected by the involvement of numerous ministers. This unit will evaluate all policies and decisions that impact housing supply and affordability
  • Advocated for the delay in adopting the state Medium Density Code to help provide positive outcomes while not affecting affordability and supply
  • Worked closely with Building and Energy to ensure the adoption of the NCC would integrate with the building methodologies in Western Australia
  • Housing Roundtable –held in October with Premier and key housing stakeholders to discuss the best path forward for improving housing delivery capacity across the state.

First published on 28 November 2023

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