Thursday, 25 February 2021
On the HomeBuilder program, I've had a number of contractors and people involved in the home-building industry reach out to me who are very concerned about the hard deadline that this government has imposed by when builds must begin.
In Bendigo, we have steady growth. Every year, we have new homes being built. But the HomeBuilder program caught many of them off guard, and there are now supply-chain issues. Usually builders stage their build throughout the year. This is smart. This ensures that not only do the new homeowners have the time to get their savings and their payments worked out but also a continuous supply chain of work. It allows the suppliers and the tradies to have that continuous work, that continuous pipeline. But, because of the hard deadline that this government has imposed on when builds must start, everybody is racing to get started.
We simply don't have enough tradespeople on the ground. We don't have the supplies in our stores to get everybody started at once. Then a concern that the industry has is that all these homes will be built in bulk quickly and then there won't be work at the other end. What they are calling on is for this government to have a softer, phased start line so that in regional areas they can ensure that the HomeBuilder program is rolled out over a longer period. We don't want to see a sugar hit and then no work, and that's what this government's program has been designed to do.
There's also a genuine concern about supplies, particularly supplies that are coming from overseas. This is an area where the government has simply dropped the ball. Whether it be building supplies or basic goods that our stores are selling, we have a problem with accessing supplies overseas and having them imported to Australia. Part of the problem is shipping. Our country has become so reliant on overseas vessels and overseas crews that we don't have a secure supply. We don't have Australian shipping to bring goods to our country. It is something that is a sovereign risk, and, right now, we need a government to act.
The coronavirus is raging throughout the world, and we know that. Many crews are Filipino or South-East Asian. They're not able to get onto the ships like they once did. This is an opportunity for us to ensure that we have supplies arriving in our country and that our supply chains are secure by returning to a state where we actually have Australian shipping—Australian ships with Australian crews, healthy and able to bring the goods to the country that we need.