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Fast track for infrastructure needed as civil construction activity hits two year low


New figures out today show that the volume of civil/engineering construction work done across Australia fell to a two-year low during the March 2019 quarter. The amount of work done in this part of the construction sector fell by 4.9% during the quarter and has now lost 13.5% over the past year.

“With the economy growing at its slowest rate in a decade, Master Builders wants to see government-led infrastructure work speeded up to boost flagging activity in the civil/engineering construction sector and growth in the economy,” Master Builders Australia Chief Economist Shane Garrett said.

“Master Builders strongly supports the Government’s $100 billion infrastructure investment, but today’s figures show that the pace at which these initiatives are translating into action on the ground is slow. Greater urgency in getting these projects out the door more will boost demand and give the economy a shove in the right direction,” he said.

“Activity hasn’t been at a lower ebb since late 2016 and state and territory governments need to work with the Federal Government to do more to get projects out the door and construction started,” Shane Garrett said.

“Infrastructure work gives a great bang for its buck. As well as providing visible, confidence-building work in the immediate term, it also expands the economy’s capacity, flexibility and liveability for decades to come,” he said.

“Unlike other forms of expenditure, the bulk of the monies spent on infrastructure are retained and recycled within the Australian economy, assisting recovery in other areas of the economy,” Shane Garrett said.

Over the year to the March 2019 quarter, the volume of engineering construction work done saw gains only in Tasmania (+17.8%) and South Australia (+13.2%). Over the same period, the Northern Territory suffered the largest reduction in activity (-74.0%), followed by the ACT (-28.4%) and Western Australia (-24.9%). Engineering construction work also experienced setbacks in Victoria (-13.4%), Queensland (-8.9%) and New South Wales (-2.9%).

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