An ANU expert has called on governments around the country to increase infrastructure spending as a key part of Australia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, suggesting construction spending is critical for post-pandemic recovery.
Associate Professor Sara Bice said the virus presents a “golden opportunity” to put Australian businesses and workers at the forefront of recovery efforts, to reduce economic impact and accelerate the delivery of projects.
“So far, economic packages have rightly focused on things like health funding, job seeker payments, business subsidies and welfare,” Associate Professor Bice said.
“But past crises demonstrate the importance of Australia’s infrastructure sector to national stimulus.
“It’s critical that Australia maintains a focus on project delivery, perhaps even considering an increase in spending before economic recovery begins.”
The Property Council of Australia’s ACT executive director Adina Cirson said the coronavirus crisis is a “tough and a testing time for all sectors of the property industry”, and said confidence is “at an all-time low”.
“Undoubtedly, some sectors have been hit harder than others, with hotels and tourism being hit the hardest, followed by retail and commercial offices. Overall a significant impact on all sectors is expected, with all reporting a moderate to serious impact with relation to construction schedules and growth expectations over the next few months,” she said.
“These results highlight the absolutely critical nature of our work with the ACT Government to keep construction going and to keep those who are working in the property and construction industries in a job.
“Our industry is going to be vital in the post COVID-19 recovery phase, and ensuring we have a solid pipeline of construction projects is essential.”
In terms of smaller and residential projects, Masters Builders ACT has assured ACT residents that the local building and construction industry remains “open for business”.
“Confirmation by the Prime Minister that building and construction remains classified as an essential industry is excellent news for local builders and homeowners alike,” said Master Builders ACT CEO Michael Hopkins.
“Homeowners can be rest assured that their current and future residential building projects can still go ahead.”
He said the local industry is relying on property owners to continue with their residential building projects.
“There are over 5,500 building and construction businesses in the ACT, of which 98% employ less than 20 people… We are encouraging homeowners looking to renovate or anyone planning a new build to get in contact with a local builder and continue with your project plans.”