$15 million to combat timber shortages

The Federal Government has invested an additional $15.1 million to combat the structural timber shortage faced by the housing and construction industry.

The investment will be used to deliver bushfire-affected softwood to underutilised timber mills, targeting timber on Kangaroo Island that could provide enough timber for between 8,000 and 10,000 new houses.

Federal Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia, David Littleproud, said the government had listened to the industry’s concerns to keep product moving.

“This will provide vital assistance to businesses impacted by increased demand, global supply chain delays due to COVID-19, and the lasting impacts of the 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires,” Mr Littleproud said.

“We stand ready to work with states and urge them to act swiftly to help us bring bushfire-affected construction timbers to mills with immediate capacity to produce structural timbers.

“It expands our successful $15 million Forestry Salvage Transport Measure, to allow for both intrastate and interstate transport of remaining bushfire-salvaged construction grade softwood to mills in any state with capacity to process it.”

Assistant Treasurer, Minister for Housing, Minister for Homelessness, Social and Community Housing, Michael Sukkar, said that the program would give the construction industry a boost and help address building material shortages.

“Australia’s construction industry is a significant contributor to our post-pandemic economic recovery,” Mr Sukkar said.

“This is reflected by the fourth consecutive increase in dwelling investment in the June National Accounts, rising 1.7 per cent since the introduction of HomeBuilder.

“We have seen more than 135,000 HomeBuilder applications and we want to get people into their new homes as soon as possible.”

CEO of Master Builders Australia, Denita Wawn, welcomed the announcement.

“This comes at a crucial time for thousands of builders and tradies whose viability is threatened by a surge in the price of timber and chronic delays of up to three months to access the timber needed to construct new homes and renovations,” Ms Wawn said.

“This move is a ‘no-brainer’ that will underpin the continued success of the HomeBuilder scheme that is fulfilling the dreams of first homeownership for thousands of people and playing a major role in accelerating economic recovery as we begin to look to the future beyond COVID lockdowns.”

Assistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries, Jonno Duniam, said the investment would address an immediate market need to accelerate domestic timber supplies and avoid a crucial resource going to waste.

“This funding will provide timber where it’s needed most and address the time sensitives associated with processing bushfire-salvaged timber,” Mr Duniam said.

“This will ensure businesses are able to capture any remaining bushfire-salvaged construction grade softwood assets, which will become less viable as structural timber the longer they sit without being processed.

“Without this assistance, jobs would be lost and salvageable logs would be burned or left to rot, releasing carbon emissions into the atmosphere.

“With their support, we will ensure that the forestry and building industries can continue to boost economic growth, employ Australians and deliver a secure supply of Australian timber products to the domestic market.”

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