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AUSBUILD '96, Adelaide, 18 May [1996]: address

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Speech: Ausbuild '96 18.5.96

Address by:

The Honourable John Moore M.P. Minister for Industry, Science and Tourism


to launch: AUSBUILD ’96 Adelaide, 18th May

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Mr Premier, M r Middendorp, M r Edwards, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

I would like to thank the HIA for this opportunity to open AUSBUILD 96.

It is a significant occassion and one which allows me to express my appreciation to the HIA and its members, for the support and encouragement it has given the Government.

Your industry is a welcome inclusion in my portfolio.

As Industry Minister, it is my task, to ensure that Australian industry has the right environment in which to progress.

An environment, which is conducive to good business.

I hope, to achieve this, in partnership with industry to ensure that this sector realises its full potential.

I have already met with a number o f representatives from the HIA and the industry more broadly, and have discussed with them a number of priority areas which require action.

This , I hope^ will be the start o f friutful consultations between your industry and the Government, in this important sector.

This evening, I would like to focus on three important areas:

□ the current state o f the industry □ the Government's broad objectives and □ provide you with details of some housing industry specific initiatives □ initiatives which aim to build on the strengths o f the industry and help you overcome

some of the barriers currently in place.

The housing and construction industry is a key priority area for the Government.

Because o f the economic and social impact that the housing and construction industry has on the wellbeing of all Australians, the future o f this industry affects us all.

Your industry provides every Australian with one o f life's basic necessities - housing- and it is important that you are able to do so at affordable prices, while retaining a premium on quality.

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Domestically, the housing industry contributes more to the Australian economy than; non residential construction; mining or indeed agriculture.

In 1994/95, private expenditure on new dwellings amounted to $24.5 billion or around 5.4% o f GDP and generated about one quarter of gross private investment.

More importantly though, it stimulates the economy directly, by creating jobs and incomes and indirectly by creating a flow-on demand for goods and services.

Internationally, building and construction has the potential to produce substantial benefits for the Australian housing industry, in particular, and the economy in general.

Just recently, I was able to meet with the Japanese Minister for Construction and we were able to strengthen co-operation between Australia and Japan in the areas o f housing and infrastructure development.

The deregulation o f the Japanese housing sector has great prospects for Australia. Housing related exports, having increased by over 50% in the year to September 1995.

Recent research suggests that a raised export profile by the housing industry could contribute;

□ an extra $1 billion to net export revenue; □ $1.7 billion to GDP; and, □ a further 22,000 new jobs annually

The industry as a whole needs to capitalise on opportunities overseas, particularly in the Asia Pacific region. A huge market which we can tap because o f our competitiveness and quality product.

We have some o f the world's best housing, and one o f the world's most efficient housing sectors.

We have the technology and the capacity as a nation to meet export demand.

Success depends on our ability to work together.

The Government recognises that there are barriers which impact on the industry's ability to compete effectively in overseas markets and is already taking steps to minimise them.

The HIA recently conducted a survey of 600 of its member builders.

Those surveyed identified a number of issues for industry, including:

□ the need to reduce red tape and regulation; □ to streamline compliance requirements with a view to improving the international competitiveness o f the industry and, □ to reform unfair dismissal laws.

I am pleased to be able to say that, the Government is already working towards realising a number of these key objectives.

As you will be aware, the Government is concentrating on a comprehensive reform program which will focus on;

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□ reducing the budget deficit and increasing National Savings; - so as to ease the impact on interest rates in the money market □ accelerating micro-economic reform- particularly in creating a flexible labour market and; □ improving the overall climate for growth, especially for small and medium size businesses.

These are measures, which I believe, will go a long way in providing the kind opportunities that you need, but have long been denied.

Small business contributes significantly to the Australian economy.

They contribute approximately; 30 per cent o f Australia's gross domestic product and generate employment for 3.5 million people, or 45 per cent o f the total workforce.

There are nearly 800,000 small businesses in Australia.

This is significant for the housing industry, as it is an industry characterised by a large number o f small sized businesses.

In order to demonstrate the Government's com m itm ent, the Prime Minister recently announced that we will be holding a Small Business Summit in June.

My colleague Mr Prosser and I will be chairing this forum.

It will focus on the impact o f decisions made by all tiers of government on the development and operations o f small businesses.

It will deal particularly with issues which overlap all three tiers o f government, or, where there is a need for national consistency in the approach to regulation reform.

Ministers responsible for small business from the states and territories and representatives o f local government will be attending the Summit.

Small businesses and their representative organisations have been invited to identify issues which should be addressed in this forum.

Issues which_are identified at the Summit will be referred to the Small Business Deregulation Task Force for consideration, which is to report back to the Government later this year.

The Task Force has been established to advise on revenue neutral ways of streamlining paper work and reducing taxation compliance costs for small business.

Membership o f the Task Force has been drawn from Government, small business, the legal and accounting sectors. It is aslo worthwhile noting that Roger du Blet (Blay), a former national president and current national director o f the HIA, is a member of the Taskforce.

M atters to be taken into consideration by the Task Force include:

□ the impact of Federal Government regulatory and statistical requirements; □ the costs o f complying with various Commonwealth taxes; □ the impact o f state/local regulatory and compliance requirements.

Recommendations from the Taskforce will contribute to the development o f the regulation efficiency program.

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This, vve hope, will demonstrate that Government and business can work together to achieve the right results - results that benefit the whole community.

The Government is also concerned about issues which specifically effect the efficiency and effectiveness o f the housing industry.

And it is keen to address these problems, so that you can realise your full potential.

In my discussions with your representatives, about the current state o f the industry and its future, one single issue is raised time and time again: the inefficient regulatory environment in which the industry operates.

The Housing industry is one o f the nation's most highly regulated industry sectors.

As you are all aware, regulations that arise across all tiers o f Government and impact on:

□ licensing and qualifications, □ zoning □ building standards □ insurance and warranties □ work practices □ occupational health and safety, and □ industrial relations

O f major concern to us is o f course that these varying regulations;

□ hamper the effectiveness o f the industry □ act as a significant barrier to competitiveness, both domestically and internationally □ militate against the concept o f a national market □ waste resources, and □ contribute to affordability problems.

To combat this, the Government is seeking to achieve the following objectives;

a common approach to licensing and registration o f home builders; _

less costly and simpler accreditation and approvals processes for new building products; and,

a national housing code which is performance based.

The Government is interested in providing the leadership required to bring the various strands together and promote an integrated approach to regulatory reform.

Many o f the states and territories are presently moving independently towards regulatory reform in a number o f these areas.

For home building companies, the realisation o f these initiatives will provide for cost savings through a reduction in red tape and paper work, as well as delivering a national market with increased opportunities for interstate expansion.

This should have a flow on effect for consumers and demand.

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In concluding this evening, I would like to reinforce that the Government is keen to improve the business environment in which the industry is operating.

In doing so, we will be looking at working closely with your representatives to identify practical and appropriate solutions.

Solutions that will help industry to remove the barriers to efficiency and growth which it currently faces.

I thank you and take pleasure in formally declaring AUSBUILD '96 open.

Speech Index

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