Scroll Top

Interview with Steve Price, Sky News.


Event: Interview with Steve Price, Sky News.
Date: 5 July 2024, 6:30pm AEST
Speakers: Denita Wawn, Chief Executive Master Builders Australia
Topics: Housing supply, building costs, National Housing Accord


Steve Price, Sky News: I mentioned the housing problem that we have in Australia. It’s a crisis. Chief Executive of the Master Builders Association, Denita Wawn, has been good enough to join us on a Friday night. Denita, thank you for your time. I picked up The Australian newspaper, I think that was Tuesday morning, where the industry is talking about if Labour wants to get to it’s ambition of house builds over the next five years, we would need to be building a house every two minutes. That ain’t going to happen, is it?

Denita Wawn, CEO Master Builders Australia: No, unfortunately at this stage, Steve, it’s not. We have a multiple, a number of roadblocks in our way, to enable us to build. We’re build ready, but we need some solutions and removals of those roadblocks. One of them is shortages of labour. Of course, industrial relations is playing, unfortunately, a part and over regulation as well, so, and the private market is simply slowing down. Inflation and interest rates is really biting on the capacity of the private investment in the housing market. And we can’t just rely on government alone.

Steve: I decided to go and have an actual look at one of the new housing developments. I went out to a place called Tarneit, west of Melbourne, near Truganina, above Werribee, it’s extraordinary what’s happened out there but you can see there’s land and a lot of it’s still farming land, but obviously there’s a huge number of roadblocks in the way for construction companies, housing builders, to get out there and build I mean, it’s a very difficult thing for them to get permission to do it.

Denita: That’s right. I mean, the some of the biggest problems we’re facing at the moment is that developers are willing to develop but we can’t get the utility there, the civil works there to even be build ready. And I don’t know if people heard over the week that we’ve also had situations where there’s a protest by the ETU at the moment over industrial action, over their EBAs. And it’s now delaying electrical connections to well over one and a half thousand homes, that are just sitting there waiting to be occupied but don’t have any electricity. So, there’s a range of issues that are really stopping building and we’ve got to get all levels of government working together. There’s been good intentions by the federal government, the state governments, but we’re seeing piecemeal approaches, and in some instances, and when you look at industrial relations as a good example, it’s actually contrary to the policies being sought by the federal government. So, there’s a lot of work to do. The clock started ticking on Monday. And already we’re really concerned about whether or not we’ll be able to build those 1.2 million homes which we know we need.

Steve: Just finally Denita, it must be driving prices up as well all of this?

Denita: It is unfortunately, and we saw in the recent inflation numbers, rents still increasingly go up. You really feel for renters in Australia at the moment they are paying exorbitant amounts of money, they can’t find a rental property. We need to encourage private investment into the rental sector, whether it’s mum and dad investors or right through to institutional investors. And again, we just don’t have the mix right at the moment in the economy to ensure that we’re investing in rental properties just as much as investing in homeownership as well.

Steve: Denita Wawn, thanks for giving up some of your Friday night for us. It’s always a pleasure to catch up with you.

Media contact:
Dee Zegarac
National Director, Media & Public Affairs
0400 493 071

Sign up to our news and media mailing list.