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Big, bold Vic budget values design and construction sector’s capacity to drive economic recovery

The 2020 Victorian Budget handed down today transforms the economic challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic into opportunities for investment and creates a more equitable, resilient and sustainable future for Victoria, according to the Australian Institute of Architects.

Victorian Chapter President Bill Krotiris said the Institute welcomes the focus on budget initiatives and measures that place explicit value on quality design.

“The 2020 Victorian Budget makes historic investments in our State’s future and leverages this spending to deliver outcomes that create more than just economic stimulus and jobs, but a stronger, more sustainable future for the state, especially in the built environment,” Mr Krotiris said.

“The $2 billion investment in enlarging and enhancing Victoria’s health services and infrastructure is a tremendous opportunity to incorporate the health benefits of sustainable design into these new facilities.

“The award-winning Bendigo hospital is a standout example of the power of wellbeing where a healing and healthy placemaking environment is incorporated in the design approach.

“Australian architects have a worldwide reputation for creative and innovative design leadership and Australia is known for producing contemporary and breakthrough architecture which the Victorian Government must harness to maximise the dividend from taxpayer dollars.

“The multi-billion school upgrade program also aligns with key economic stimulus recommendations the Institute put forward in response to the coronavirus pandemic and is a chance to transform the value our educational infrastructure delivers to young minds.

“We look forward to a robust procurement process as this program is rolled out in the coming period.”

The Institute reiterated its strong support for the Andrews Government’s unprecedented investment in increasing and upgrading the state’s stock of social and affordable housing, commending in particular the focus on embedding energy efficiency in the design of new dwellings.

“Delivering new housing that not only alleviates the homelessness crisis, housing affordability stress and insecurity but that also meets the highest standards of energy efficiency is precisely the type of good public policy the Institute has long-championed,” said Institute CEO Julia Cambage.

“The Institute hopes to see this same commitment to sustainable construction carry over into minimum 7-star energy efficiency standards for all larger-scale new builds under the new Victorian Homebuyer scheme.

“We are delighted to see these sustainability measures complemented by the Andrews Government’s announcement of a further $1.6 billion package to drive the transition towards a net zero emissions future by 2050.

“The Institute’s National Council has endorsed an even more ambitious target for the construction industry to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030.

“Reforms to the state’s planning system respond to another major plank of our stimulus policy by keeping regulatory approvals flowing through State agencies and local government.

“We encourage investments in improved efficiency measures for the planning process that also emphasise the importance of quality outcomes for both the built environment and the public domain.”

The $100 million Sole Trade Support Fund and Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme will help alleviate some of the pandemic-induced financial hardship faced by many businesses, including architects, as highlighted in the Institute’s June 2020 COVID-19 member survey.