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Clearer guidelines need to be given to the thousands of tradespeople involved in new homes and renovation projects, according to the HIA.
HIA executive director Gold Coast/Northern Rivers, Toni Bull, said national cabinet needs to address fears tradespeople have when undergoing work across borders.
“Thousands of builders and tradies working either side of the NSW/Qld border need the national cabinet to start relaxing border restrictions and assist workers unduly impacted by the ‘border bubble’ to get back to work and deliver the new homes and renovations critical to both state’s economies,” Ms Bull said.
“When border closures started at 1am on 8 August, there was little notice provided to builders and tradespeople. The housing industry was given no time to prepare properly for what was a major logistical blow to normal business movements. There was a clear underestimation of how mobile the home building industry is and how many businesses would be impacted.
“The border closure and the inconsistency regarding who can work where is now causing anxiety and financial stress for many builders and tradies who need to cross the borders every day for work.”
Ms Bull added that a high number of Gold Coast and Northern Rivers builders have a dual licence that allows them to work in NSW and Queensland, “but under the current closure, they are unable to complete work outside the border zone”.
“Frustratingly, there is one set of rules for NSW-based contractors and another for Queensland-based contractors despite the fact that contractors from both sides of the border could be working on the same job at any given time,” she said.
“A builder or tradie that lives on the Queensland side of the ‘border bubble’ is not able to travel to the NSW side of the ‘bubble’, yet those living on the NSW side can attend construction sites on the Queensland side.
“If a construction site is outside the Queensland border zone, a NSW resident can travel by private vehicle to and from the construction site as long as they don’t exit the vehicle on the way and do not leave the construction site when they arrive.
“Not surprisingly, Queensland tradies are not prepared to attend sites in NSW as they may not be allowed to go back home. Under these requirements, a number of contractors are moving from Queensland to NSW just to finish a job.
“This simply doesn’t make sense. There should be one consistent approach and workers crossing the border for work-only purposes must be permitted. The difficulty in moving building materials and supplies, on top of the labour movement is forcing some projects to come to a halt, meaning staff are now being laid off.”
In conclusion, Ms Bull said more must be done to alleviate fears and help keep home building activity on track.
“Home builders and tradies are afraid [that] if nothing is done soon, then construction in the border zone will come to a halt completely. Many have said they may have to shut up shop for good,” she said.
“With the Gold Coast region in particular feeling the pain of losing jobs in tourism, ensuring home building can continue in a sensible and managed way will help to ensure critical jobs and economic activity for the region is maintained.
“Given COVID-19 is under relative control in both states, national cabinet must come to an agreement now about how and when this situation can be resolved.
“If this doesn’t happen, HIA fears hundreds of housing projects will stop, jobs will go and home owners hoping to move into their new home or finish their renovation project will miss out,” concluded Ms Bull.