A big thank you to Abbey, our National Awards Coordinator, and the Chapters for their support and effort in bringing the 2020 Awards to fruition. We have all been impacted to varying degrees by COVID-19, with 2020 a year like no other. Amidst this, we have worked hard with members, entrants and sponsors to ensure AIB delivers a memorable event. This has meant the NSW, Victorian and Tasmanian Chapters have gone “Virtual”, a first for all of us, with the National Awards also being steamed live via You Tube 7pm, 20 November.

Our WA, ACT and Queensland Chapters have been able to organise their events as “Live” Awards and have also done an amazing job under difficult circumstances.  I would encourage you to join in, whether “Live” or “Virtual”, with your colleagues, families and  friends to support these fabulous events.

As industry leader, with a depth understanding of social and economic drivers, AIB has commenced lobbying Government for investment in local manufacturing. Construction has been overlooked as a strategic area of investment and one that employs 1.2 million hard-working Australians. This is exacerbated by the diversion of funds away from local manufacturing to cheaper imports from China. This has a multiplier effect, impacting the growth of local manufacture, employment and increase in household incomes for those folk working in and around the building and construction industry.

The unnecessary pursuit of cheaper products and materials from China is evidenced in the behaviour in certain segments of the industry where a tender is won by a builder and then local supply substituted for cheaper products from China. This “saving” quickly evaporates when we consider the impact of lost income to the economy, for reasons mentioned, along with self-sufficiency, skill development and providing careers for the apprentices, tradespeople and building professionals.

Where we have capacity and capability, lost revenue is conservatively estimated at $4.45 billion. That is, 5% of the $89 billion spent on materials and products for all sectors of building and construction. A recent Centre for Future Work report shows Australia last in the OECD for manufacturing self-sufficiency, and with a trade deficit in manufactures of $180 billion.

Certain details of the taskforce’s final report and its recommendation to grow the sector have leaked, such as a description of the potential for 495,000 new jobs over the decade, based on — among other things — cheaper gas supplies.

Government has shown oversight in key areas including regulation around local content, funding support to increase local manufacturing and embargos on designated products and materials from China. The construction industry stalled during the early stages of the pandemic as factories in China closed down and proved the value of local manufacturing.

Th role of the AIB is to work with Government and industry to provide guidance and understanding of the socio-economic drivers and changes that can be made to address behaviour and decision-making to improve the health and profitability of the industry.

Geoff Dart
Executive Director