UNSURE TIMES: CJ Homes' Steven O'Hanlon thinks it’s too early to know just how the spread of COVID-19 would impact upon CQ’s building industry.
UNSURE TIMES: CJ Homes' Steven O'Hanlon thinks it’s too early to know just how the spread of COVID-19 would impact upon CQ’s building industry.

Builders welcome stimulus

NERVOUSCentral Queensland building industry workers are closely watching the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, unsure just what the health and economic implications will be.

CJ Homes sales consultant Steven O’Hanlon said it was still too early to gauge what the effects would be to the local building industry.

“Over the past week we have seen a massive change with very little inquiry,” Mr O’Hanlon said.

“Our display home has now had to close in relation to government regulations and (we’re) only able to assist clients by appointment. In regards to our on-site construction activity our constructions are continuing to progress with very strict conditions now in place and as a result have had to reschedule on site practices with a maximum of six workers allowed on the workplace at any one time and increased hygiene measures.

“Our focus at the moment is to continue to support our workforce and practice safe workplace measures.”

He expected there would be more changes and the effects of job losses to be felt for sometime.

“To maintain the level of construction it will require the banks and government to review their lending and deposit requirements,” he said.

Master Builders Association’s CQ regional manager Dennis Bryant said the government’s stimulus package announcements had given heart to many people.

“The CQ building and construction industry is reasonably busy at the moment and having just travelled around the region I am impressed by the activity going on in all centres including the far west,” Mr Bryant said.

“Our main concerns will be with supply and we have encouraged all members to seek alternative supply arrangements to be able to continue with their projects.

“Master Builders has done an analysis of the supply sources and while we have some exposure to overseas slowdowns we are in a pretty good situation.”

Mr Bryant said their main concern was whether Australian manufacturing would continue to produce product.

Master Builders Central Queensland Regional Manager Dennis Bryant
Master Builders Central Queensland Regional Manager Dennis Bryant

“Our builders and contractors will need to work more closely with their clients to ensure positive outcomes for all parties, and to ensure the safety of all individuals,” he said.

While there may be a temptation on behalf of clients to put off doing what they had planned to do, in what are uncertain times, he urged them to stick with their plans and continue to provide support for the industry and by extension, the wider community.

“What we earn and spend benefits all business,” he said.

“Think of this as an impending cyclone or flood, which in this region we are used to dealing with. We know it is coming. We don’t know what the damage is going to be, if any, so we prepare as best we can and deal with the outcome.

“There will be pain and there is always a recovery period, however, as a region we have always worked our way through these events and I am sure we can do it with COVID- 19.”

He said most businesses in the industry were trading at turnover less than $800,000pa.

“Many of these are sole traders and mum and dad operations,” he said.

“I know that many will strive to keep their workers and subcontractors busy ensuring they can pay their bills.

“The fact that we have quite a lot of work at the moment is a bonus. The stimulus package is providing for the company entities as well as the sole traders and has given them a safety net.”

Mr Bryant said all employers needed to be aware of the requirements of the Work Health and Safety Act to provide a safe working environment for all persons.

“Workers also have a role to play in maintaining social distance and observing strict hygiene measures,” he said.

“We at Master Builders have made provision to continue to provide support for our industry and to keep the individual members of the team from cross infection.”

He congratulated governments at all levels, and the opposition, for working constructively to ensure that we could conduct business as best they could.

“We will adapt to the challenges. We may have to make some adjustments as to how that is achieved but it can be done,” Mr Bryant said.

“The Tax incentives are a positive and practical measure of returning cash to the economy. Support for those who may lose their work as sole traders is now at a more practical level.

“While the ability to access Superannuation is available I would hope this would be an act of last resort.

“Members need to make sure that they talk to their accountants about how they can ensure that they can maximise the incentives being offered.”

He said there was a need within the industry for alternative projects to replace the drop in demand created by clients who were finding themselves affected by the slowdown or shutdown of their workplaces, transport, tourism, entertainment and accommodation industries to name a few.

“We encourage government at all levels to ramp up infrastructure spend, sooner rather than later,” he said.

“This will have a long term affect on our industry that employs in excess of 240,000 people and provide further stimulus.

“There are projects on the drawing board. They just need to be activated. We want our members, their workers, their clients and the community in general to come out the other side of this crisis as safely and financially secure as possible.”