SYDNEY: The hit to Australia's population growth from closing its international borders is quickly turning a long-running housing shortage into a glut, bringing an end to the apartment building boom behind much of the country's recent prosperity.
Since 2000, Australia has added about 6 million to its population, more than six times the growth seen in Germany, with most of that coming from immigration. That fueled huge demand for housing construction, much of it smaller dwellings in larger, higher-density urban blocks, not just the bungalows on sprawling plots for which Australian suburbs are better known.
With Australia's borders likely to remain closed until the coronavirus pandemic is successfully contained, a heavy decline in construction, which accounts for roughly 10 per cent of all jobs and economic activity, is set to push unemployment higher and hurt businesses both up and downstream.
Lindsay Partridge, managing director of Brickworks, a building materials company, sees the pipeline for big multi-unit housing developments drying up as immigration stalls and non-permanent residents depart.
"We are seeing quite high vacancy rates emerging," Partridge told Reuters. "A lot of the people who were renting apartments are going home."
Sydney, the biggest city, is experiencing the worst residential vacancy rate in the country at over 16 per cent in May from between 4 per cent and 5 per cent late last year, according to SQM research.
Since 2014, higher density housing has accounted for about 43 per cent of residential construction, more than double the proportion during the 1980s. Significant demand has come from the massive influx of foreign students who make up about 40 per cent of Australia's immigration intake.
In May, the number of higher density homes approved for construction fell 34.9 per cent to a near eight-year low, data showed last week. Economists see further declines ahead.
BIS Oxford expects construction starts for high rise apartments to fall to just 21,500 in the year to June 2021, down by two-thirds from five years ago.
To head off the expected shock, the central bank has slashed borrowing rates to record lows. State and federal governments have brought forward massive public works spending and offered grants for home alterations.
There are also hopes that demand for houses in areas outside the major cities might pick up as employers increasingly embrace remote working arrangements.
PIPELINE PLUNGE COMING
Compared with the thousands of deaths in other countries, Australia has managed to keep its outbreak well contained with just over 100 fatalities. While its economy has entered its first recession in three decades, the contraction is less acute than most of its rich world peers.
Unlike the services industry, where hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost, the hit to construction has so far been mild.
Still, policymakers are deeply worried about that changing as builders approach a plunge in the project pipeline over the next 12 months.
"Looking ahead, most contacts expect to continue to adjust their workforce in some format because of the uncertain outlook for construction acRead More – Source
Queen Elizabeth and Duke of Edinburgh receive Covid-19 vaccine
Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh have received their Covid-19 vaccinations, a Buckingham Palace spokesperson said Saturday.
Dozens killed in suspected jihadist attack in Niger
Dozens of people were killed in an attack in Niger on Saturday, in a suspected jihadist attack.
The attack took place around 12:00 CET in the Tchomo-Bangou village in Tillabéri, a western region bordering Mali.
“The assailants surrounded the village and killed up to 50 people,” a local radio journalist said anonymously. “The wounded have been evacuated to the hospital in Ouallam.”
It came on the day provisional results for the first round of the presidential election, held on December 27, were released.
Mohamed Bazoum, the candidate for the ruling Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS) and a former interior minister, is in the lead with 39.3 per cent of the votes. Bazoum has vowed to strengthen the country’s fight against Islamist groups.
The second round of the election is to be held on February 21.
Niger has been a target for jihadist attacks for years, particularly in the western and southeastern parts of the country.
On December 21, six days before the presidential poll, seven soldiers were killed in Tillabéri. In May 2020, twenty people, including children, were also killed in two of the region’s villages.
Niger votes in presidential and legislative elections
People in Niger began voting in the country’s presidential and parliamentary elections on Sunday.
Mohamed Bazoum, the right-hand man of outgoing President Mahamadou Issoufou is the favourite to win.
The sixty-year-old former interior minister is aiming for outright victory in the first round — something that no candidate has done before.
He’s focussing on security and education.
Over 7 million people are eligible to vote. But some voters, like Gambina Moumouni, simply want a president they can trust.
“We pray to Allah to choose us the president who has the most mercy for the people, a president who will not betray the country and who will not betray the trust of the people, that is our wish. It is also our wish that Allah may help to make the poor, the peasants, the (cattle) breeders happy.
Thirty candidates are standing including two former presidents and two former prime ministers, but according to seasoned observers in the region, the poll is arousing little enthusiasm among the population.
Niger is the world’s poorest according to the UN’s Human Development Index and also one of those hardest hit by climate change.
Tech7 months ago
Search engine startup asks users to be the customer, not the product
Europe4 weeks ago
Covid: Flights shut down as EU discusses UK virus threat
Health4 weeks ago
Spain ‘to register’ those who refuse to have Covid-19 vaccine
Sports4 years ago
Boxing continues to knock itself out with bewildering, incorrect decisions
Sports4 years ago
Phillies’ Aaron Altherr makes mind-boggling barehanded play
Europe2 months ago
45 arrested across Europe and Brazil as authorities seize ‘record haul’ of cocaine
latest news7 months ago
Creepy technologies invade European post-pandemic workplaces
Sports4 years ago
Steph Curry finally got the contract he deserves from the Warriors