Back in 2015, Queensland’s building and construction industry pumped out 50,000 new homes across the state in the space of just 12 months.

As we find ourselves in the grips of a housing crisis, it would be wonderful to be in a position to meet or even surpass those figures again. Unfortunately, the latest building approvals figures point towards far fewer dwellings in the pipeline.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics tells us that just 34,303 new homes have been approved across the state over the 12 months to October – down 6.4 per cent. This means Queensland is still well short of the 48,000 dwellings needed for the state to meet its share of the national five-year target of 1.2 million homes.

In some positive news, Greater Brisbane, Sunshine Coast, Central Queensland, North and Far North Queensland regions saw detached housing approvals trending upwards over the three months. These regions would be performing strongly if the unit approvals could match this performance.

Small mercies, perhaps – but unfortunately, these trends are not enough to bring us back into the black just yet.

Against the backdrop of interest rate hikes, mortgage stress, critically-low rental vacancy rate, and as living costs seem to skyrocket on a daily basis, additional pressures are making it more challenging for our residential sector to get on with the job of delivering the housing Queenslanders need.

We’ve had new provisions introduced into the National Construction Code this year, including livable housing, and there are more changes to come in 2024. Inclusive and sustainable homes are of course something we all want – but we also need housing to be affordable, and these significant changes are driving up building costs. Trade shortages also remain an issue in some regions.

The Queensland government’s decision back in October to double the First Home Owner Grant from $15,000 to $30,000, will hopefully prove a shot in the arm for the residential building sector, and offset some of these costs to industry and consumers.

On the flipside, the non-residential sector is being bolstered by the government’s capital works program of new hospitals, along with private sector investment in new offices and warehouses.

Cutting government red tape and implementing sound policy and legislation to help us build more homes, more affordably, is vital to helping industry release the state from the grips of this housing crisis.

We did it in 2015 – and we can do it again.

Paul Bidwell, CEO, Master Builders Queensland


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