Media Release

The Institute calls on the National Government to support the design and construction industries during COVID-19 crisis

The Australian Institute of Architects has written to the Prime Minister outlining stimulus measures that are needed by the development sector during the coronavirus pandemic.

The letter covers initiatives that would help to keep the design and construction industries in action during these uncertain times, including keeping construction running where possible, bringing forward infrastructure projects, investing in Australian jobs and materials, and suspending design competitions.

Full text:

24 March 2020

The Hon Scott Morrison
Prime Minister
PO Box 6022
Parliament House
CANBERRA ACT 2600

Dear Prime Minister

The Australian Institute of Architects (the Institute) commends you on the leadership your government is showing in support of businesses and importantly the most vulnerable members of the community whose jobs and livelihoods are under threat.

The Institute believes that stimulus measures that are aimed at the development sector, and all its components, from planning and design consulting services through to construction trades, supply chains and delivery, are needed more than ever.  Given that this sector makes up 13% of the Australian GDP in normal times, we see the following as key actions for Australia to weather this storm:

  • keeping construction running
  • bringing forward infrastructure programs and projects
  • looking after Australian business and jobs in all government procurement processes
  • suspending design competitions.

Keeping construction running

Maintaining the construction sector as an essential service is a key component to ongoing economic stimulus measures.

Keeping people in work and projects moving, as well as starting new projects, has never been more important.  Local consulting services and trades, local materials and products are of high quality, available and in good supply. 

Importantly, the construction sector has critical downstream economic benefits, driving demand for materials and equipment from local and national manufacturers, and for goods and services in supporting sectors. The continuation of this vital economic contribution will be a lifeline for many in the months ahead.

Bring forward infrastructure projects

Bringing forward spending on infrastructure will be one of the key factors in boosting an economic recovery. Areas of most need are rebuilding communities after the bushfires and affordable housing.  

Areas that set us up for the future include transport, infrastructure, health, education and housing.

Australian job and materials

At times like these, it is incumbent on all levels of government to support Australians through procurement policies that favour Australian providers. While overseas companies can and do bring value, governments must consider how Australian companies should be engaged to develop and maintain capability within Australia.   Strong weightings must be attached to selection criteria for local companies.

There is a groundswell of concern about the volume of work being directed to commercial international companies in Australian cities. This is a loss to Australia in terms of revenue, jobs and skills development. Using Australian companies and products has a significant multiplier effect that is not offered by other forms of economic stimulus.

We call upon State and Federal Governments to support for Australia by preferencing local design professionals and building contractors for the next three to five years to enable the Australian design, building and construction sectors to outlive the looming recession and come back stronger. 

Suspend design competitions

We would strongly recommend that the National Cabinet consider suspending any Government Design Competitions that unnecessarily burden competing firms and cease offering design competitions for all future works until we see signs of an economic recovery.

We would like to offer the Institute’s support in any way practicable. Please do not hesitate to make contact if you require further information

Yours sincerely

Prof Helen Lochhead, LFRAIA, National President & Julia Cambage, Chief Executive Officer

— ENDS —

For media enquiries contact:

Jenna Greig | National Media and Communications Manager | Australian Institute of Architects
+61 (0) 477 333 205 | jenna.greig@architecture.com.au

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