Building industry boss quits
THE BOSS of the region’s peak body for the building and development industry, which is turning over $1.3 billion a year and accounts for almost 11 per cent of the region’s jobs, has quit after seven years.
Rory McDonald, regional manager of Wide Bay-Burnett Master Builders, yesterday said he was leaving the association on the crest of a new industry wave, “with a massive increase in building approvals and a steady growth in confidence”.
This goes against the state trend with the Urban Development Institute announcing yesterday that our housing remains the most affected since the global financial crisis.
“If I had a magic wand at this point I’d want a fast track to expedite applications to the council and then really work together with them for the benefit of the entire region.
“A lot of development is just sitting out there waiting to be approved and commenced.”
The Wide Bay is Australia’s best-kept secret and development is set to “gradually increase” over the next three to four years, says the powerful local Master Builders Association regional manager, who confirmed his resignation yesterday.
“You can still buy a block here with water views for a very reasonable price,” said Rory McDonald, who is leaving the MBA to join PJ Burns in Hervey Bay as the regional manager.
“With interest rates moving only minutely, the region is on a good thing but if the rates started to go up by full points we’d all have to lock our doors and hide in the basement.”
Mr McDonald said the demographic of the Fraser Coast was divided into “two different worlds”.
“Hervey Bay is so Gold Coast with huge peaks and troughs. It is driven on tourism activity and confidence. Maryborough is very old school. It flat lines and occasionally waivers up and down.
“A lot of Maryborough builders don’t advertise because word-of-mouth works there. They are often booked two years ahead.”
Amalgamation, he says, probably didn’t affect us except for the reduction in government funding to councils.
“This was a big hit here too. Where do you get the revenue from to do the infrastructure you know we need and stuff that the ratepayers want?
“Fees and charges go up, so do rates. But it’s a business and it’s got to be run like a business.
“This council is doing the best it can with what it’s got.”
In his seven years he dealt with “many councils”.
“Some do things really good. Some not so good. Our builders are just looking for consistency in the way their applications are lodged. Some councils take days to process what we call tick and flick applications and others take weeks, even months.
“This is costly for the whole region. The ultimate would be to have closer liaison and consultation between local government bodies and industry.
“If we could all sit down at a table and not fight but work together, that would move us forward faster.”
Mr McDonald leaves MBA on October 15 and starts with PJ Burns on October 25.