Event: Denita Wawn interview with Michael Rowland and Nour Haydar, ABC News Breakfast
Date: Tuesday, 10 January 2023, 7.20am AEDT
Speakers: Michael Rowland, host ABC News Breakfast; Nour Haydar, host ABC News Breakfast; Denita Wawn CEO Master Builders Australia
Topics: building and construction; migration; skills
Nour Haydar, host ABC News Breakfast: There’s been further gloomy news about the state of the housing sector with the latest data on building approvals for November by nine per cent.
Michael Rowland, host ABC News Breakfast: Yes it’s been seen as another sign of pressure on both demand and supply for property amid rising interest rates and ever present skills shortages. Denita Wawn is the chief executive of Master Builders Australia and joins us now. Denita good morning to you. So how challenging is it in the housing sector?
Denita Wawn, CEO Master Builders Australia: It’s been challenging and continues to be challenging. We’ve had obviously shortages of products and delays in products. We’ve now got significant shortages of labour meaning that homes which normally take about nine months to build are now taking about 12 months to build. And that’s on top of product prices which have gone up quite significantly. If you combine that with interest rate rises we’re now seeing a downturn in building approvals which is not good news because we know we have a shortage of houses in this country. So we’ve got to sort the problem out and we commend the federal government for developing the Housing Accord as well as the supply council to looks at some of those more problematic issues that have entrenched the problems in housing over the last decade or so.
Michael: Skills shortages are a big issue in a lot of industries including very clearly in your sector. Matching up builders, tradies, it can’t happen overnight. So, how much would you like the government to consider for instance further rising the migration rate to ease of the pressure?
Denita: Yes, Master Builders Australia has put in a submission last week to look at increasing the migration cap but more importantly looking at greater flexibility in how we encourage people to come to Australia. For example, we think that the English language levels are simply too high for some jobs and that needs to be revised. Let’s encourage people from all walks of life from all around the world. And if they have the skills then they are encouraged to come here regardless of their English proficiency for example. So, there are things that need to be changed from a policy settings perspective not just the numbers.
Michael: Okay and finally, everybody else is offering their free advice to the Reserve Bank board ahead of their next scheduled meeting next month so you may as well Denita Wawn. What do you reckon they should do on interest rates?
Denita: Well, if we continue to see inflation going high then unfortunately we find our concerns will be that interest rates will be lifted to curb that spending. So it will all depend on those inflationary figures but we hope that things will stabilise and that interest rates don’t go too high because it is dampening the housing market that’s for sure.
Michael: Okay Denita Wawn chief executive of Master Builders thanks for joining us.
Denita: Pleasure, thank you.
National Director, Media & Public Affairs
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