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Greens push for a public builder as private construction companies collapse

September 27 2023

The SA Greens are calling for the establishment of a public builder to undertake construction of new public and affordable homes and step in to complete houses that are partially constructed in instances where builders have gone bust.  

The Greens’ push comes as three prominent SA builders, Wake Concepts, Qattro Built and Felmeri Homes, have collapsed within months of each other, leaving more than 100 South Australians out of work, hundreds of homes unfinished and their customers in limbo. Meanwhile, there are over 15,000 on South Australia’s public housing waiting list and the SA Housing Authority’s maintenance backlog is estimated at approximately $310m.[1]

“During this period of volatility, we can’t leave the responsibility of building new housing just to the private sector. We have hundreds of South Australians in limbo following the collapse of Qattro, meanwhile public housing tenants are waiting for key maintenance to be completed. We are also desperately waiting for new public and affordable housing to be built. A new public builder could step in and do this work as an urgent priority,’ said Greens Housing Spokesperson Robert Simms MLC.

“At its peak, the SA Housing Trust was building almost half of all new residential dwellings in South Australia per year. As we grapple with the worst housing crisis in generations, now is the time for the Government to play a much more active role. A public builder would stabilise SA’s building industry, as well as provide well paid jobs and strengthen building standards.”

Mr Simms will move a motion in the Upper House calling for the State Government to investigate establishing a public builder in Parliament later today. 

Germany, Singapore, and Turkey have publicly owned builders responsible for the construction, maintenance and upgrading of public housing. In the UK after the global financial crisis the Government intervened to restart unfinished building projects.