ENERGY security and pricing remain the most significant factors in making investment decisions for Australian building product manufacturers, according to HIA’s national manufacturers’ council.
Held in Sydney the Housing Industry Association’s eighth Building Better Cities Summit, Manufacturing Australian Building Products: where to from here? brought together industry leaders to discuss the future of Australian building products and the future of housing during the next decade.
Housing Industry Association managing director Shane Goodwin said the summit showed there was a critical need to have an affordable and reliable energy supply.
“We repeatedly heard today that when compared with other manufacturing destinations, Australia’s energy costs are hampering our ability to attract investment into new manufacturing products and facilities,” he said.
“Manufacturers need to have a solid foundation to maintain their operating costs and deliver price competitive building materials for new housing.
“Many manufacturers are deciding to invest in their own generation capacity, at significant cost, to overcome the systemic problems in the national electricity market.”
Western Australia is not part of the national electricity market but the state does import building products from the eastern states so thereis an indirect effect.
“It’s equally important that we see support for industry continue in R&D to assist manufacturers take advantage of new technologies and follow the exponential curve of innovation on our doorstep from the digital economy.’’
Mr Goodwin said it was still necessary to solve older issues such as affordable and easy access to Australian Standards, achieve a better balance between federal and state regulation of building work and resolve the oversight of product quality.
But he said the building industry had always been a rapid adopter of new technology.
“Our building product manufacturers are embracing advances like 3D printing, robotisation and blockchain technology as disruptive technologies.
“These are big opportunities for Australian manufacturers. Clearly as an industry, building product manufacturing and the construction they support are too big to ignore.
“Despite the headwinds, there continues to be enormous opportunities to build the local building product manufacturing sector over the next decade. But its success depends on the Government’s ability to provide stable input costs.
“The industry cannot fight to attract jobs to our economy whilst the fundamentals of doing business in Australia remain uncertain.
“The future of Australian building product manufacturing remains bright.
Now is the time for industry and government to work together to get the fundamentals rebalanced and to ensure that we don’t lose the opportunities on our door step.’’