In the lead up to the highly anticipated 2nd Annual Building the Territory conference, Dave shares his views on the outlook for the building and construction industry in the NT, an insight into Master Builders’ pipeline over the next few years, and more importantly the reasons why the Territory is an enormous place of opportunity.
Today, construction in the NT is big business. There are estimates topping out at $7bn for the value of work done across the various segments of the construction industry. Undoubtedly, the Inpex gas project swells that figure considerably, but it also highlights the strength of the engineering construction sector today. Likewise, the residential construction occurring in our suburbs continues to power on – thanks to a combination of low interest rates, confidence, land availability and first home owner grants.
In contrast, the commercial sector, including highrise residential, infrastructure, sheds and offices is down on the highs of the recent past. This just goes to show that there are cycles within cycles, as well as the very dynamic nature of construction demand more generally.
The Territory is still an economy that will be driven by private and public investment for some time to come, and to a much greater degree than most states in Australia. With that will come the obvious business cycles, but the medium to long term prospects remain good, as there is no doubt that the Territory is a place of enormous opportunity.
In some ways, the Territory is very fortunate that it is a young jurisdiction. It does not have the sort of history which delivers truckloads of old and redundant regulation for example. The key test for us is to ensure that the regulation we do have remains contemporary, and recognises the heavy compliance burden on business today thanks to the combination of regulation across 3 tiers of Government.
Master Builders makes a considerable investment in scoping out the future demand for construction services in the Territory, so as to build a good understanding of what that might mean for the many businesses that rely on our industry for opportunity. Right now, we have just finished a major study by nationally recognised economic modellers, Independent Economics.
Today, it looks like the next wave of work is likely to be driven by significant Defence projects, on top the on-going demand generated by an ever expanding economic base.
Housing will remain strong and we should see commercial construction rebounding once the current supplies of ‘stock’ are depleted. The needs of Defence are varied and will stimulate opportunities across the entire sector.
Conferences like this one deliver a really important opportunity to focus on our industry. In a world where everything is urgent, it presents a great opportunity to just listen and learn. We all have ‘windows on our world‘ but there are always limits to that – this conference opens up much greater horizons and importantly, a chance to ‘test’ our views against others looking at much the same future.
Anyone who works for an industry association will tell you that the one thing these jobs always deliver in spades, is variety. One minute you are working with a member on a problem, the next you might be providing a bunch of quickfire responses to the media, then making an economic presentation on the future of the industry, talking to future builders about their training and then finally sitting down to work on new products and/or services you think your members might need tomorrow.
I’m very lucky. We have a strong organisation with a proud history, plenty of member involvement and a strong team. In that world, I’m able to respond to today’s urgent tasks, while keeping an eye on what our business will look like in years to come.