Canberra’s cashing in building boom but needs an ACT pledge

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BUILDERS and the construction industry have accepted indirect praise from the federal government for “powering” the Australian economy after a focus of its budget was centred on infrastructure building, apprenticeships and job creation.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has committed a further $2.7 billion to its HomeBuilder program that will expand the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements wage subsidy amid a $285 million commitment to support skills reform in a raft of stimulating job measures.

Master Builders ACT have reported more than 3000 applications for the HomeBuilder grant scheme around Canberra’s streets, which has supported around $1 billion of the residential building activity that directly has kept 8,780 locals in jobs.

“Canberra’s building industry will welcome the federal government’s investment on Tuesday night in apprenticeships, infrastructure building, and supporting small businesses,” Master Builders ACT chief executive Michael Hopkins said.

“The government’s HomeBuilder program has proven to be one of the most successful economic stimulus programs in the ACT’s history.”

The investment of additional funding for William Hovell Drive duplication, Gundaroo Drive duplication, upgrades to Beltana Road and commitments to Light Rail and Commonwealth Avenue bridge is set to provide additional jobs and underpin Canberra’s future growth.

The Master Builders ACT is now calling on the territory government to follow the lead of the federal government, and significantly increase its commitment to skills funding, particularly for construction apprenticeships.

“The strong recovery of the local construction sector, combined also with pre-Covid skills shortages means that Canberra needs more skilled workers to deliver the forward pipeline of construction projects – the federal budget will help fill the skills gap,” Mr Hopkins said.

The National Skills Commission average price benchmarking report has pointed out that the ACT has been the worst performer of all Australian jurisdictions when it comes to funding many construction apprenticeships.

Mr Hopkins said the end result of more federal cash thrown towards apprenticeships will ensure that builders can meet supply and demand among Canberra’s housing growth.

“Home ownership is vital for a strong economy,” Mr Hopkins said.

“The family home guarantee will be life changing for single custodial parents, the vast majority of whom are women.

“The strong commitment by the federal government to skills and apprenticeships provides the framework needed for the ACT government to also increase apprenticeship funding in its August budget.”

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