Lessons from Constructive 2023

David Kelly

Registered Master Builders Association chief executive David Kelly summarises the debate during, and response from, this year’s Constructive Forum held in Auckland.

It was a great pleasure to host the 2023 Constructive Forum in August. It was our eighth consecutive Forum, and the third which has occurred in the run-up to a general election.

This year’s programme was themed around taking action. How do we smooth the boom-and-bust cycles that have beset the sector for 50 years? How do we boost productivity? And how do we make sure we’re adapting to climate change and building sustainably for the future? It is fair to say — there was robust debate.

Constructive works because of the open and honest exchange of views which are showcased.

This year, I was delighted to welcome my Australian colleague Denita Wawn from Master Builders Australia, and Amanda Long from the Considerate Constructors Scheme in the UK, to share their international perspectives and policy innovations with us.

Master Builders is committed to keeping these discussions going to see if there are areas where we can provide a joint response, particularly with Master Builders Australia.

Constructive was also a timely opportunity to hear from Dr Megan Woods, Minister for Housing, Infrastructure and Building and Construction, and Chris Bishop, National’s Housing, Infrastructure, RMA Reform & Urban Development spokesperson, to hear their insights and plans for the sector.

Now is the time to see leadership from politicians across both sides of the political spectrum. It was good to hear specifics about policy prescriptions for our sector, not just generalities.

The construction sector can no longer be kicked around like a political football. Our key message to the new Government is not to throw the baby out with the bath water.

Good progress is already underway in a number of areas — procurement, consenting and skills training (through apprenticeship boost). We need these programmes to continue. I urge you all to keep these conversations going with your local politicians and candidates.

Each year at Constructive, we unveil the State of the Sector Survey findings. This time around, the results were a real mixed bag, probably reflecting the fact that the downturn we’re feeling is somewhat unique.

52% of the sector responded to our survey claiming they have a steady or strong pipeline of work on the horizon, whilst on the other side, 48% said they’re seeing a decline. 12% said they’re experiencing a critical diminishment of work.

Unlike 2008, the floor hasn’t suddenly fallen out from beneath us. It’s been a slower, compounding pressure that’s impacted different businesses at different times.

Because of this, people are also naturally cautious, with 66% believing the crunch isn’t over for the country, and that things are set to worsen.

If you’re interested in the State of the Sector results – you can find a video summary below.

Watch the video here

While Constructive is an annual event, we will keep conversations going with the new government and across the sector, and we will continue to work with the industry to build a better construction sector for all.

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