The latest research report from the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC) on the impact of COVID-19 on population growth and housing is a welcome contribution to policy thinking, and a powerful call to action for the Federal Government on stimulus and migration.
The Property Council has called on the Federal Government to extend its successful HomeBuilder stimulus program for new housing construction for a further six months to July 2021. The Property Council has also recommended a ‘Welcome to Australia’ migration plan to provide the skills, people and growth our economy needs.
As the NHFIC report notes, international border closures have effectively shut down net overseas migration which accounted for 59 per cent of population growth since 2007. International students account for around 50 per cent of net overseas migration. This fall in migration is flowing through to demand for housing which if sustained will put further pressure on residential construction and compound the economic downturn.
Property Council Chief Executive, Ken Morrison, said: “The NHFIC report paints the scenario we can’t allow to happen, because if we do it will mean many tens of thousands more Australians losing their jobs.
“A roadmap for restarting our migration program should be a top priority for National Cabinet.
“It will need to be done safely, sensibly and in stages with public health always at the forefront – but we cannot avoid the inescapable and profound economic impact of keeping our international borders closed to migration.
“Migration always has and will continue to be one of the big drivers of our economic growth and prosperity, and needs to be front and centre in our economic recovery plans.
The need for stimulus has rarely been more stark and the success of Homebuilder will need to be extended to 30 June next year (2020) to support tradies and many additional jobs in one of Australia’s most productive industries.” Mr Morrison said.
An earlier NHFIC research report found that nine jobs are supported across the economy for every $1 million spent on residential construction.
Around 134,000 people are directly employed in residential construction and the industry contributes about 5 per cent to annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP), making it a vitally important industry in the Australian economy in terms of its contribution to jobs and economic growth.
Source: Property Council of Australia