Earthmoving Industry Insight, Opinion

Warnings over timber house frame deficit

Australia will experience a deficit of 250,000 house frames in 15 years’ time, unless action is taken

Master Builders Australia and the Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) have released a joint analysis of timber frame production, titled Australia’s Timber Framing Cliff, warning that unless there is investment in timber plantation stock, there could be a shortfall of 250,000 house frames by 2035.

The report says that the house frame shortage would be most severe in Victoria, with a shortfall of 76,602, with Queensland and New South Wales following at 56,175 and 51,068 frames short, respectively.

CEO of Master Builders Australia Denita Wawn says that supply of quality Australian timber for new homes and buildings was critical for the national construction sector.

“This analysis is a wake-up call for decision makers to act now to avoid a construction industry crisis in the next decade.

‘It’s in Australia’s national interest to secure our local timber supply by ensuring our timber plantation stock can meet future housing demand,” says Wawn.

“The housing construction industry is the engine room of the Australian economy and it needs a consistent, reliable domestic timber supply. As the timber shortages of the past 18 months have shown, we cannot rely on imports to fill the gap when we have increased construction activity – we need to act now.”

The report states that 400,000 additional hectares of plantation are needed by 2030 to safeguard supply, as well as: greater support for sawmills to increase their processing capacity; supporting shovel-ready projects to increase sawlog recovery; and inclusion in the federal government’s Modern Manufacturing Strategy.

AFPA chief executive Ross Hampton says the report should serve as a wake-up call to governments.

“This report shows that state and federal governments need to seriously tackle the policies which will drive forward new plantings of the right types of trees at the right scale and in the right places,” he says.

“Australian governments need to work together on a national plan that delivers an immediate increase in our plantation estate to ensure Australia can meet its future housing construction needs. Future generations of Aussie homeowners are counting on it.”

Master Builders welcomed the announcement in September that the federal government is spending $15.1 million to address shorter-term timber shortages in the construction industry, targeting timber on Kangaroo Island and transporting bushfire-salvaged softwood to timber mills.

Timber supply has been impacted by COVID-19, increased global demand and the impact of last year’s bushfires, leading to a nationwide shortage of building supplies and delays in supply chains of 22 to 26 weeks for some products.

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