Australia unveils $469m housing industry stimulus
Jamie Smyth in Sydney
Australia unveiled a A$680m ($469m) stimulus package aimed at supporting the construction and home building industries on Thursday, as the nation braced for its first recession in almost three decades.
Under the government’s HomeBuilder programme homeowners can apply for a A$25,000 grant to subsidise the cost of renovating an existing property or building a new house. The scheme is intended to provide around 27,000 grants and support 140,000 direct jobs and up to 1m related jobs in the residential construction sector, said the government.
Applicants for the grants are subject to a means test, which includes income caps of A$200,000 for couples and A$125,000 for single people.
“The home building industry is critical to our economies all around the country,” said Scott Morrison, Australia’s prime minister.
“It’s all about jobs. And at the end of the day, the difficult news we got yesterday about what happened in the first quarter of this year, and we expect that to get worse than the one we’re in right now, that’s why we’re putting these plans in place.”
On Wednesday, Australia’s Treasury confirmed the nation was already in recession following a 0.3 per cent fall in gross domestic product in the first quarter and a sharp contraction of up to 10 per cent forecast in the second quarter. It marks the first time in 29 years that Australia will experience a technical recession, which is two consecutive quarters of contraction.
The Conservative government has already unleashed more than A$70bn in spending on a Jobkeeper programme, which is subsidising the wages of about 3.5m people, many of whom have been furloughed due to Covid-19.