Union Timber Shortage
Union calls for roundtable. Image – Canva
  • Calls have been made on the federal government to hold a round table
  • Current supply is stretched thin in the housing construction sector
  • Growing global and domestic supply at the root of the shortage

CFMEU Manufacturing Division has called on the Federal Government to urgently convene an industry forum to solve Australia’s worsening shortage of timber, particularly impacting the housing construction sector.

The union represents workers in the timber, forestry and pulp and paper sectors. It’s National Secretary Michael O’Connor has written to the Minister for Housing Michael Sukkar, the Minister for Industry Christian Porter, and the Assistant Minister for Forestry, Sen Johnathon Duniam.

The ministers have been provided with a brief explaining that the current supply is heavily reliant on imports which are providing enough timber to meet rising local demand.

As indicated in the brief, the current demand is 175,000 cubic metres a month, or 2.1 million per year. This stretches supply thin.

The current production capacity is restricted to around 150,000 cubic meters per month, or 1.8 million per year, a far reach from the national demand.

“The shortage of timber in the Australian market… is a looming disaster for the home building sector and timber worker communities around the country,”

Michael O’Connor, The Union’s National Secretary

Mr O’Connor cited strong domestic and global demand as fulling the shortage, along with the worsened supply since the bushfires of 2019/20.

“Demand for house framing timber in Australia is going to outstrip log supply based on the current plantation estate and growth projections.”

The union said that while in the past imports have been able to increase to meet rising local demand, it is believed that the booming housing market in the US has become the preferred destination for the global timber trade.

Timber shortage union
Nationwide timber shortage. Image – Canva

The ongoing impacts of COVID19 are providing another source of disruption to the supply chain of timber globally.

The Russian government has announced a ban on exporting timber from the country. This is likely to mean China will be looking elsewhere for their timber supply, placing further pressure on the dwindling stock.

“In an unstable and unpredictable world, now more than ever Australia needs our forest estate to be bigger to meet future domestic demand,” said Mr O’Connor.

“We need State and Federal Governments and all parts of the industry to urgently come together and discuss our proposals to address resource issues.

“This includes growing our plantation estate, supporting the value adding of the forest resource here and discouraging the export of logs to unreliable markets.”

Until the timber shortage is addressed, residential construction costs will continue to soar.

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