04/02/2009 - 22:00

Housing gets big boost

04/02/2009 - 22:00

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BUILDERS, insulation suppliers and solar hot water providers will be winners from the state and federal government stimulus packages, announced this week.

BUILDERS, insulation suppliers and solar hot water providers will be winners from the state and federal government stimulus packages, announced this week.

Housing was a big winner in Western Australia, with the Barnett government bringing forward $316 million of spending for the construction of more than 1,000 houses in Perth and regional WA.

The Master Builder's Association praised the move, emphasising the role of state and federal governments in stimulating construction activity to generate employment.

"The premier's announcement that 1,000 new homes will be built for those in need in both metropolitan and regional areas is a very prudent counter-cyclical strategy which will reduce the pressure on rental properties and also stimulate much needed activity among residential builders," MBA managing director Michael McLean said.

It was particularly important to the regional areas where smaller companies would benefit.

Mr McLean said it was important the Department of Housing and Works fast track the tender process and ensure that apprentices could be employed on the projects.

Cooper and Oxley director Max Rivett said he didn't think the fiscal stimulation package would create noticeably more work for builders, although it might increase competition.

"The federal government might have created more work, but the state government had already axed a lot of projects," Mr Rivett told WA Business News.

"We're not sure if it will filter down to the little guys."

Country Builders WA managing director Julian Walter called the package a great move.

"There is a shortage of housing in country areas, which has been aggravated by the fact that no-one could build because of the skills shortage," Mr Walters said.

"Given the fact that there's been a bit of a market trough now, it's probably a great move and hopefully will be able to attract people back to the regional areas."

Among its raft of initiatives, the Rudd government will provide $3.9 billion to subsidise the installation of roof insulation and solar hot water systems.

Australia's largest solar hot water system manufacturer, Welshpool-based Solarhart, is expecting a surge in demand following the boost to government incentives.

"We get call stats every week and I guarantee there'll be a surge in calls this week," WA manager John Mortimer said.

"The main push has been the growth in retail sales, a lot more people are making considered decisions. They've got existing gas or electric systems and they're coming to us wanting to know more about the savings," he said.

Karen Johnson from Northside Insulation said while she approved of the insulation package, she was concerned industry and the public had not been advised very well.

"Whether or not it's a good thing depends on if we just get a lot of new people coming into the market and selling things cheaply," Ms Johnson said.

"Because this was thrown at us at such a hurry, nobody really knows what the guidelines are."

Woolstore Insulation managing director Mark Anderson said the announcement had caused people to delay quoting because they were waiting to see how they could benefit.

"I'm supportive, however I'm not impressed by statements that have no detail, no information and I don't know if there was any consultation with industry," he said.

"We don't know any of the detail. I can't advise my clients."

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