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Friday analysis: Future depends on forestry ministers’ cooperation

The housing construction industry is facing something of a crisis. According to a landmark new report released on Tuesday by Master Builders Australia and the Australian Forest Products Association titled Australia’s Timber Framing Cliff, Australia faces a major sovereign capability gap in the production of timber house frames by 2035.

In blunt terms the report concludes we will be 250,000 house frames short by 2035.

The state-by-state analysis reveals just how many house frames short of demand Australia will be by 2035. Victoria will be a city the size of Geelong short, NSW will be Wagga Wagga and Tamworth short, Queensland will be a city the size of Cairns short, South Australia a Mount Gambier short, WA a Bunbury short, Tasmania a city the size of Kingston short, the NT a town the size of Tennant Creek short and the ACT a suburb the size of Kambah.

That’s pretty blunt. That’s just 14 years away.

The current timber shortages for housing have already highlighted that not enough trees were planted, for one reason or another, 30 years ago.

Or even 15 years ago it seems.

This is not a problem that is going to go away any time soon.

AFPA CEO Ross Hampton said that 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.

Cue Wednesday’s announcement that State and Territory forestry ministers have agreed to work together to grow the forest estate and secure the future of the Australian forestry industry.

Assistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries Jonno Duniam said the Federal Government believed that collaboration with jurisdictions and industry was key to growing the forestry industry.

He’s spot on with that.

But getting the various Ministers to agree could be a big job given two of them a hell bent on shutting down the native timber industry in their respective states.

The co-operation between State governments during Covid – co-operation which began with such promise – has certainly shown that rivalries still exist.

Putting those rivalries aside will be vital if this newly announced agreement is to have any effect or influence.

Future generations are counting on it.