The Victorian Labor Government has declined to partner with the Morrison Government to help address timber shortages in the building and construction sector.
In September 2021 the Morrison Government announced a $15.1 million program to support the transportation of bushfire-salvaged softwood to timber mills, seeking co-funding and delivery in partnership with state governments.
Member for Wannon, Dan Tehan has called on the Victorian Labor Government to reconsider its decision.
“This program is a huge opportunity to ease some of the timber supply issues for our building and construction sector and help to address shortages in Victoria,” Mr Tehan said.
“There are processors in my electorate that are crying out for more wood supply, and we know how much our building sector needs more timber.
“This program also provided an opportunity for the expansion of domestic manufacturing boosting the industry’s resilience to international markets and securing jobs locally.”
The program targets bushfire-affected timber on Kangaroo Island in South Australia and would deliver much-needed funding to allow the transport of these resources from South Australia to Victorian timber mills with spare processing capacity, which would boost Victorian timber supply.
Assistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries, Jonno Duniam said the long-term impacts of devastating bushfires, the unprecedented demand for new homes, renovations, and Covid-19 have presented challenges for our timber supply chains, which is why the Morrison Government stepped up to offer this transport assistance.
“I am disappointed that for all of their talk about supporting industry in Victoria, the Labor Government is yet to get on board with this program,” said Assistant Minister Duniam.
“The Victorian Labor Government’s decision leaves local Victorian timber mills in the lurch, costing jobs and making the timber shortage worse. It will also mean that hard-working Victorians won’t be able to build their homes.
“I call on the Victorian Labor Government to support our local timber manufacturing industry and sign on to this program.”
CEO of the Victorian Forest Products Association, Deb Kerr said that over the last 30 years, Victoria’s supply of timber for construction has remained static while the number of new homes has more than doubled.
“With no other timber resource to fill the gap, the Kangaroo Island resource presents a one-off opportunity to improve the supply of timber for housing, new jobs for Victorians and to support vibrant regional economies,” said Ms Kerr.
“It makes sense for the Federal and Victorian Governments to support this one-off opportunity to help more Victorians build their homes”.