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Friday analysis: Fed Govt $300M not just an election sweetener

It would be easy to dismiss the Federal Government decision to pour $300m into the promotion of low emissions timber as an election sweetener.

The program, launched through the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, will promote the use of low-carbon engineered wood materials in apartments and office buildings with the aim of driving down emissions in the construction industry.

And, yes it will also bolster the government’s environmental credentials ahead the federal election, as will the announcement to inject $1bn into the Great Barrier Reef and $50m into koala conservation.

But the program is much more than this.

The funding will finance eligible products across the country on a “case-by-case” basis, including in office, retail, industrial, healthcare, education, residential, seniors living, hotels and student accommodation.

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation will deploy the capital over three years in amounts ranging from $20 million to $75 million – targeting projects ranging in construction cost from $40 million to $200 million – to make low-carbon engineered wood products a building material of choice.

The timber industry at all levels must, and no doubt will, use this program to push its case for timber as the ultimate renewable as hard as it can.

The take-up of CLT in Australia has been relatively modest.

Forest and Wood Products Australia has been reported as saying that the local industry used only 12,000 cubic metres of CLT over the past 12 months – partly because of COVID-related lockdowns.

But those figures are tipped to rise as work picks up.

This new promotion opportunity is going to go a long way to pushing that even further.

For companies producing engineered wood in Australia, this must be the absolute fillip they have been waiting for.