The Federal Government has announced a $15 million investment towards the nation’s timber shortage, which will safeguard the viability of builder and trade businesses around the country.

The COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with the Black Summer bushfires of 2019 has led to a shortage and a backlog of up to 18 months in some instances for homes to be constructed.

The funding from the Commonwealth will dispatch bushfire-affected softwood to underutilised timber mills, with timber to be taken from Kangaroo Island that will provide timber for the frames of between 8,000 and 10,000 new houses across the country.

Master Builders Australia CEO, Denita Wawn, says the investment will provide reassurance to the construction industry in a time of uncertainty.

“The Government’s intervention will result in the supply of enough new timber to support the construction of 10,000 new homes and sighs of relief from builders, tradies and their clients,” she says.  

“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 3 months to access the timber needed to construct new homes and renovations.

“Subsidising the transport of salvaged timber from plantations on bushfire ravaged Kangaroo Island to timber mills with immediate capacity in South Australia and other states is elegant in its practicality.”

Wawn says the HomeBuilder scheme, which has seen hundreds of thousands of new homes approved throughout Australia, will be supported by the investment.

“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,” she says.

“Supporting jobs and businesses in communities ravaged by the fires and reeling from economic impact of the pandemic is also a big win which Master Builders alliance with the Australian Forest Products Association helped bring about.

“Master Builders has worked closely with the Federal Government to push for this outcome, in particular the Federal Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Housing, the Minister for Forestry, Fisheries and Industry Development and the Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia.”