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Budget boost for construction apprentices


Building and construction industry groups have responded positively to the Federal Budget handed down last week.

Measures announced by Treasurer Jim Chalmers include financial support for apprentices and their employees, backing for programs to build women’s careers, prioritising trade recognition skills, getting homes built sooner, and commitments to lessen emissions in the sector.

Master Builders Australia Chief Executive Officer Denita Wawn said as the Government walked an economic tightrope, the Budget made positive steps towards boosting housing supply, but it can’t falter mid-way.

“We support the extension of housing programs and agreements including the additional $2.5 billion to increase the cap on bond aggregator financing,” she said.

“Increased funding for critical infrastructure to support new home building reinforces the important role of commercial and civil construction in building sustainable communities.”

Wawn said MBA welcomed funding to establish the Building Women’s Careers Program, which will complement the work of Women Building Australia.

The Australian Constructors Association welcomed moves to support a low-carbon liquid fuel industry with a focus on renewable diesel to support emissions reduction in the construction field.

ACA CEO Jon Davies said the construction industry is a ‘hard to abate’ sector and while electrification is the preferred decarbonisation pathway, technology constraints mean this will not be available in the short to medium term.

“The announcement will help ensure low carbon liquid fuels bridge the gap until electric options mature and renewable diesel is the best way to achieve this in the construction industry,” he said.

“A domestic renewable diesel industry will have a range of additional benefits beyond construction decarbonisation, including lower air pollutants and better air quality, energy security, local employment and economic growth from both feedstock and refining.”

The Construction, Forestry, Maritime Employees Union (CFMEU) has backed the measures to help more apprentices and women forge careers in construction.

CFMEU National Secretary Zach Smith said building and construction apprentices would have access to $5000 to help them complete training, while employers will be eligible for the same amount to subsidise costs.

The Building Women’s Careers program will spend $55.6 million over four years to provide flexible, safe and inclusive jobs for women in industries including construction.

“While the CFMEU is at the forefront of helping more women find well-paid jobs in construction, a government scheme that assists our work is a really important step,” he said.

The project pipeline

The Budget provides $16.5 billion for new and existing projects across Australia over 10 years to improve productivity, liveability, and sustainability.

Guided by the priorities of productivity and resilience, liveability and sustainability, the Government is investing $4.6b in 69 new projects, including:

  • $1.9b for Western Sydney road and rail infrastructure.
  • $300m for METRONET to deliver a capacity signalling program in Western Australia.
  • $177 million to deliver bridge and intersection upgrades along the Warrego Highway in Queensland.
  • $80m to upgrade the Lyell Highway between Granton and New Norfolk in Tasmania.
  • $120m for the Princes Highway to deliver interchange upgrades at Mount Barker and Verdun in South Australia.
  • $50m to plan for Stage 2B of the Canberra Light Rail.
  • $12m for the Bridgewater Road and Portland Ring Road intersection upgrade in Victoria.

This also includes $54om to improve the reliability of the Australian Rail Track Corporation’s interstate freight rail network, including $150m to upgrade the Maroona to Portland Line in Victoria.

An additional $10.1b has been allocated to ensure current projects can be delivered across the nation, including:

  • $3.25b for North East Link in Victoria.
  • $1.4b for METRONET projects in Western Australia.
  • $1.15b towards the Direct Sunshine Coast Rail Line in Queensland.
  • $50m to ensure the delivery of the existing Appin Road project in New South Wales.
  • $27.1m to deliver the duplication of William Hovell Drive in the ACT.


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