According to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Victoria’s booming building and construction industry brushed off the lingering effects of Melbourne’s sixth lockdown to powerhouse the nation in construction activity for the first time.

More than $15 billion of work was carried out in Victoria between July and September 2021, up almost 6 per cent from the previous quarter.

Total building and construction work fell in New South Wales (-8.1 per cent), Western Australia (-3.2 per cent) and the Australian Capital Territory (-15.5 per cent) while all other states and territories experienced growth.

Leading economists say the strong performance of Victoria’s building and construction industry may have saved the national economy from a tougher landing than expected in the September 2021 quarter.

This follows from the latest figures that demonstrate that total construction work done accounted for just over 12 per cent of total economic activity in Victoria in the last fiscal year in adjusted prices.

Building and construction activity as a proportion of total economic activity in this period was the highest in Victoria out of all the states, with South Australia (10.9 per cent), Queensland (10.8 per cent) and New South Wales (9.9 per cent) trailing closely behind.

Master Builders Victoria CEO Rebecca Casson said the latest figures again highlighted how important the building and construction industry is to Victoria’s and the nation’s economic recovery.

“Our industry remains Victoria's largest full-time employer, the fifth-largest contributor to Gross State Product (GSP), and it directly contributes over 46 per cent of the state's tax revenue, with the residential building sector alone generating $3 of economic activity for every $1 invested,” Ms Casson said.

“When local government tax is included, the building and construction industry accounts for more than 57 per cent of the state’s tax revenue.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the building and construction industry demonstrated its COVIDSafe commitment to the community of Victoria, and it will steadfastly remain the cornerstone of our State’s post-COVID economic recovery. 

“These latest figures demonstrate how important it was for our industry to largely remain open during lockdowns and how our sector will continue to act as a springboard for other sectors to get back on their feet.”

Master Builders Australia’s Chief Economist Shane Garrett said Victoria was leading the nation in building and construction activity.

“During 2020-21, work began on more than 46,000 new detached houses across Victoria,” he said.

“This was more than every other state and was the highest annual total Victoria has seen since records began back in 1969.

“This outcome proves that the HomeBuilder initiative was the right response at the right time.

“The latest figures show that areas of Victoria’s construction industry outside of residential building now have real momentum and will offer support to economic activity here for some time to come.”

The latest ABS data provides preliminary estimates of the value of total construction work, building work, and engineering construction work carried out in the September 2021 quarter.

Despite Victoria’s strong performance propping up the national balance sheet, the value of total construction work done nationally fell by 0.3 per cent in the September 2021 quarter to $53.9 billion.

The fall was driven by the 0.9 per cent reduction in the volume of building work done which declined to $30.4 billion. However, completed building work is still 3.2 per cent higher than at the same time last year.

Engineering construction work done across Australia rose 0.4 per cent to $23.4 billion and is 4 per cent higher than at the same time last year.

In Victoria, the total volume of engineering construction work done was valued at over $5 billion in the September quarter, a 13.7 per cent increase compared with the same time last year.