A boost in the residential building industry will be needed to underpin Australia's economic growth and stability amid the coronavirus shock, said a market expert from the Housing Industry Association (HIA).

Kristin Brookfield, chief executive for industry policy at HIA, said the residential building industry should remain one of the priorities of the Australian government when thinking of ways to stimulate the economy.

"Australia is emerging from a residential building downturn, and in the face of the coronavirus shock, stability and clear direction to ensure the housing market does not take a backward step is essential," she said.

Brookfield said guaranteeing a stable residential building sector will help uplift industry and consumer confidence.

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The construction industry contributed $105bn for the Australian economy in 2018 and accounted for 5.8% of overall expenditure. An earlier study by the HIA said that while industry felt its sharpest decline in commencements last year, the market already reached a turning point at the end of 2019 due to interest-rate cuts and house-price gains.

Still, the growth in construction is expected to be modest compared to the previous highs.

Brookfield said it is crucial for state and federal governments to stimulate activity in the residential building industry to be able to support other industries.

"Residential building stimulus was a key element in the response to the 2009 global financial crisis and the results then were very positive. Residential building activity also supports a range of other industries important to our economy, like building product manufacturing, to remain stable," she said.

The industry employs 1.1 million people — this stresses the need for maintaining a strong workforce in the industry.

"Any stimulus aimed at the residential building sector should focus on ensuring the current workforce remain on task and ensuring young people see the opportunity to move into a career in building and take up new apprenticeships," Brookfield said.