That's according to new economic modelling commissioned by Master Builders Australia, who found a $40,000 uncapped new home building grant would deliver 14,000 extra new homes and replenish most of the construction jobs lost since the start of COVID-19. 

In addition to the grant, the stimulus would include funding for renovations to make homes more resilient to natural disasters, and funding for commercial programs, such as cladding and asbestos rectification. 

Denita Wawn, CEO of Master Builders said the construction industry was one of the worst hit sectors by the pandemic and urgent government support was needed. 

"We are seeking stimulus not subsidies from government, we want the National Cabinet to urgently implement this independently modelled stimulus package and establish a special task force to fast track commencement of construction activity.” Ms Wawn said. 

"Building and construction is shaping up to be one of the industries worst hit in the long term by the COVID-19 economic crisis.

"We know from previous downturns that it takes four times longer for our industry to recover than the rest of the economy." 

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Under the proposed stimulus package, a $13.2 billion investment from governments would deliver: 

  • $30.9 billion in GDP growth;
  • 105,500 jobs in construction and across the economy; and
  • $17.6 billion in expanded construction activity (new dwelling starts, renovations and commercial construction activity

Ms Wawn said they were asking for political leaders to show the same courage and vision in supporting the construction industry as they showed in responding to the health emergency. 

"Work for builders and tradies in 2020/21 is fast evaporating and the indications are that 2021/22 will not be much better," she said.

"There is no time to spare in meeting this threat to the viability of nearly 400,000 building businesses and the jobs of 1.2 million people employed in our industry.” 

Ms Wawn added Master Builders wanted to see a dedicated building and construction industry taskforce established to oversee the implementation of the stimulus package. 

"For stimulus to occur building activity needs to commence. Builders and tradies cannot sustain their businesses and jobs on promises," Ms Wawn said.

"We have seen that governments can fast track construction activity in response to natural disasters and COVID-19 is shaping up as an economic disaster."

Master Builders estimated 77,580 jobs had been lost in construction since the start of COVID-19. 

Their proposal comes only a week after the Property Council of Australia lobbied the government to provide a $50,000 grant to buyers of newly constructed dwellings. 

That grant would be limited to the first 50,000 purchasers of newly-built homes across the country, requiring an estimated $2.5 billion in federal government funding, over $10 billion less than what Master Builders have asked for. 

Eligible properties would only include those with on-site construction commencement dates between 1 July 2020 and 30 June 2021.

Both proposals coincide with forecasts from the Housing Industry Association (HIA) of a near 50% fall in new home building which could put half a million jobs at risk over the next year. 

The HIA said it expects only 112,000 new home building commencements next financial year, down from nearly 200,000 in 2018/19. 

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