small business business | July 18, 2022

Labor must step up for regional building industry

Deputy Leader of the Nationals and Member for Lowan Emma Kealy is calling on the Andrews Labor Government to acknowledge its part in the current building crisis and work with regional building sectors to help get them back on track.

The calls come after the collapse of Hotondo Homes Horsham last week due to what its parent company described as a range of external pressures facing the construction sector. It is the second Hotondo Homes franchise to be placed in administration this year.

Ms Kealy first raised concerns about an impending industry crisis a year ago, when she spoke in Victorian Parliament about timber and other product shortages and related cost increases that were decimating builders, subcontractors and suppliers, and causing financial stress to homeowners.

At the time, Ms Kealy noted how the Andrews Labor Government’s winding down of Victoria’s sustainable timber industry had caused an over-reliance on imported products, which were impacted by supply shortages. Ms Kealy spoke about the issue again in Parliament in February.

She said things had only gone from bad to worse since.

“All you have to do is drive around any regional town to see how much the building sector really is struggling,” she said.

“It is upsetting to see Hotondo Homes Horsham go into administration. It is something no one ever wants to see happen to any business, and is devastating for the local family operators, the local employees who have lost their jobs, the local businesses left out of pocket, and the local families who are now uncertain about the future of their homes.

“Whether it was the endless lockdowns after the outbreak of COVID-19, staff and labour shortages, or shortages of materials and supplies – it’s fair to say that the building sector is one industry that definitely has not recovered.

“For many of our regional residents and builders, this is absolutely crushing and unfair.

“For months on end, house after house is being left unfinished. The frames go up, the windows arrive, yet at some point in the building process there’s a roadblock.

“We cannot allow this to keep happening. The government must step in to support these businesses and give them and regional families some hope when it comes to not only their livelihoods but building their forever homes.”

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