The structural timber shortage is continuing to worsen across Australia, according to the peak association representing South Australia’s building sector.
- Builders association CEO Will Frogley says Kangaroo Island timber must stay in South Australia
- The price of timber has increased 400 per cent in the US in the past year, he says
- The state government is seeking expressions of interest for $2m in funding to increase production of structural timber
While there are hopes timber can be sourced from South Australia’s fire-ravaged Kangaroo Island to shore up material for 10,000 new homes, Masters Builders South Australia has called for both immediate and long-term solutions.
Association chief executive Will Frogley said the issue was at crisis point and “getting worse by the day”.
“We’ve got a situation here where we’ve got record demand, record high building approvals because of the massive popularity of the federal government’s HomeBuilder Grant,” he said.
But he said there was some hope, given there was enough structural timber on Kangaroo Island to build thousands of homes.
“The Master Builders Association’s number one priority … over the last six months has been to unlock that timber from Kangaroo Island,” Mr Frogley said.
“We need to get it through a local, South Australian mill and get it out to South Australian builders.
“We believe that we’re getting closer to that. We’ve been working very closely with the state and federal governments and we’re really hopeful (we’ll have) have an announcement pretty soon.”
He said he wanted that timber resource to remain within South Australia.
He said it was imperative that supply was locked.
“Because if we don’t, someone else will take it that that timber is going to be used to build homes somewhere around the country or around the world.”
Jonathon Duniam, the federal Assistant Minister for Forestry, said his department was still working with the SA government to get the trees off Kangaroo Island.
“We’re committed to making sure every ounce of fibre is utilised in the best way possible,” he said.
The SA government has also begun addressing the problem by making $2 million in funding available to sawmills to increase production of structural timber.
Expressions of interest are being sought and Minister for Primary Industries David Basham said they were willing to look at all proposals.
“We’re looking for sawmills to look at ways that they may be able to get more structural timber into the South Australian market,” he said.
“Whether that be through upgrading or purchasing new equipment, expanding their workforce, upskilling or putting extra shifts on.