Cairns Regional Council to consider headworks discounts to revive building industry
LOCAL developers will line up for big discounts on their headworks costs as Cairns Regional Council plans another round of rich incentives to boost the construction industry.
The council last year slashed infrastructure fees for 32 construction projects, which added $47.5 million directly to the local economy within six months of the work starting.
The new council is considering repeating the ground-breaking initiative, but tweaking it to maximise the positive impact on the economy and jobs. "It’s tough times and anything we can do to drive the economy, that’s what we’ll do," Deputy Mayor Terry James said.
"It’s about sharing the load while times are bad."
Under the new policy expected to be endorsed tomorrow, the council would target commercial, retail and industrial developments in a bid to create job opportunities beyond the construction phase.
"It’s good that they’re looking at long-term employment as the foundation of the stimulus, because that’s the big issue in town," Urban Development Institute of Australia Cairns president Gerard Obersky said.
"The scheme is about the development, the building and then the jobs after that."
Developers will have to prove they can have their project completed by November 30, 2014. They also have to guarantee at least 80 per cent of the workforce on site consists of locals.
The council will wait until all applications are received in August before putting a cap on the value of the discounts. Last year’s scheme was limited to $4 million.
But there is little certainty in the region about how many developments would be eligible for the discounts in the current climate, with building approvals subdued and industry confidence low.
"Unfortunately, I don’t know of any specific projects that are sitting on the backburner, waiting for this sort of incentive to come along and kickstart them," Master Builders regional manager Ron Bannah said.
"There’s bound to be something out there, because the cycle’s gone around and around for too long and something’s got to give soon."
The council acknowledges it does not have to spend any money to offer the incentive, but it will forego the headworks charges it discounts.
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Building boost: Cairns Regional Council is considering headworks discounts to developers to encourage more construction activity.