When Atul Patel returned to his flood-ravaged Brisbane home to survey the damage and begin the clean-up, he had no idea where to begin.
- The incentive scheme is open to 1,000 tradespeople, including painters, architects, carpenters and electricians
- The recent flood disaster has exacerbated a pre-existing labour shortage across Queensland
- The Housing Industry Association says the industry is also facing a dire materials shortage
“I was shocked actually. I was lost,” he said.
“When I saw the property was muddied on the floor and all the things had been buckled up … everywhere basically was damaged.”
Mr Patel estimated he suffered $45,000 worth of property damage when the floodwater levels rose almost 2.5 metres from the road.
From external cladding and internal floorboards, to the gas and water systems, Mr Patel said his entire uninsured Fairfield home, in Brisbane’s inner south, had been damaged and finding tradies to help fix it had been challenging.
Mr Patel has added time pressures, he lives in Sydney and the home needing repair is an investment property.
“It’s difficult because so many properties have been affected and the number of tradesmen are not enough here.”
Mr Patel’s struggle comes as the Queensland government yesterday launched an incentive to attract interstate tradespeople to assist with rebuilding flood-ravaged homes.
Under the Tradies in Paradise scheme, the first 1,000 tradespeople to relocate to Queensland and work for eight weeks will receive a $1,500 relocation payment and up to $250 for travel costs.
Queensland Employment Minister Di Farmer said there was high demand for skilled tradespeople to restore homes and businesses impacted by the recent flood disaster.
“We were already facing a labour force challenge. Now, after the floods, we need more tradies than ever to come and help those people get back on their feet,” she said.
“We are calling on tradies in every other state, except New South Wales, because we know that New South Wales itself has also been very badly affected and they certainly need those tradies too.”
Industry still faced with building-materials shortage
Housing Industry Association’s Queensland director Michael Roberts questioned whether the incentive would be enough.
“It doesn’t sound like a lot of money,” he said.
“If you’re already living comfortably somewhere and you’ve got more work than you know what to do, there’s not a huge incentive to move, is there?
He said many interstate tradespeople would need to “jump through hoops to get the appropriate licensing approvals” and the industry still faced a dire shortage of building materials.
“The state proposal announced [on Thursday] potentially will assist with the labour shortage, but without more materials, we’re not going to be able to do more work,” Mr Roberts said.
“Potentially we’ll have more workers, which is great, but if we’ve only still got the same amount of materials, we’re not really going to be able to solve the problem.”
Acting Premier Steven Miles said tradespeople had also been encouraged to stay for long-term projects and keep Queensland’s economy growing.
“While they are here, they can get a taste of what it’s like to work, live and play in our great state, and maybe even stay forever and trade up to paradise.”
Applications for the scheme are open until November 30, or until the 1,000 places have been filled.
Eligible tradespeople include carpenters, electricians, plasterers, tilers, plumbers, painters, cabinet makers, planners, architects and surveyors.
Mr Patel welcomed the government’s scheme, saying he was being forced to carry out most of the repairs to his house on his own.
“It is a lot of work because we have to minimise the cost wherever we can and get it going fairly quickly, when the tradesmen are not around,” he said.