Graph 20.11 illustrates the general cyclical pattern of new house commencements. Lows were recorded in 1990 and 1996, with peaks in 1994 and 1998. New house construction grew throughout 1992, 1993 and 1994, the number of commencements peaking in the June quarter 1994. New house commencements fell in each quarter of 1994-95 and 1995-96, but grew in each quarter of 1996-97. There was continued growth in the trend up to the June quarter 1998 for new house commencements, although the rate of growth in the trend eased in the first half of 1998.
The introduction of The New Tax System introduced a shock to the system that altered this general cyclical pattern. After a slight contraction in the second half of 1998, the number of new house commencements grew at record rates in 1999 and early 2000 as a result of the rush to 'beat the GST'. Following the introduction of The New Tax System on 1 July 2000, there was a significant downturn in commencements, with completions falling at a slightly slower rate.
The graph also illustrates the relationship between new house commencements and completions. Generally, in periods of downturn in new house construction activity, completions exceed commencements, while in periods of growth this pattern is reversed.
Table 20.12 shows that new house commencements are the major component of residential building activity. In 2000 new houses accounted for 70% of new residential dwelling units commenced (i.e. excluding approvals for conversions). This proportion is similar for approvals and completions.
The table also shows that residential building activity is dominated by the private sector. In 2000 this sector accounted for around 98% of approvals, commencements and completions of new houses. The public sector was slightly more significant in 'new other residential building' work, accounting for 5% of approvals, commencements and completions.
20.12 RESIDENTIAL BUILDING, By Public/Private Sector - 2000
residential dwelling units
Source: Building Approvals, Australia (8731.0); Building Activity, Australia (8752.0).