Friday, September 22, 2023

Building timber shortage

Recent stories

Just a ‘toilet roll’ incident is an interesting metaphor to use in respect to the critical timber shortage  occurring within the Australian and world-wide construction industry.

But this is the metaphor used by Ross Hampton CEO of the Australian Forest Products Association, Canberra on 17 February 2021 in a radio interview on 2GB on the Deb Knight Program.  It is worth the listen. 

It’s not really like we’ve run out of timber, it’s more like the problem we’ve had with toilet paper …”

timber planks
Photo: Alexander Schimmeck on Unsplash.

As the CEO of the supposedly National Timber body Mr Hampton is apparently unaware that the word is that some sawmills in Australia are closing due to having no timber delivered. They have run out of wood. Indeed, there are rumours that more sawmills are scheduled to close after 26 March 2021 with no scheduled deliveries within the foreseeable future.

Further, this is in addition to the COVID hit to building items as such kitchen items essential to completing residential construction. Industry sources say this shortage was evident prior to December 2020.

On 25 March 2021 ABC News reported that “a sharp increase in global demand for building products during the COVID-19 pandemic has caused price rises and delays on Australian construction sites and is prompting calls for changes to the federal government’s HomeBuilder scheme.”

Ross  Hampton issued a press release the same day, 25 March, saying:

The national Association representing Australia’s sawmills has reassured builders and homeowners that everything is being done to supply as much construction timber as possible to meet soaring demand.

Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) Chief Executive Officer, Mr Ross Hampton, said the domestic timber industry supplies around 80 per cent of the timber used in home construction and has ramped up production to keep up with the record demand.”

“Our sawmills around the nation have greatly increased production by adding shifts and are running flat out – some are producing up to 40 per cent more timber than they were this time last year. But even this isn’t enough to keep pace with a tidal wave of demand as Australians are choosing to focus on improving homes or building new ones. This has also been driven by the post-COVID move to much more home-based working environments.”

One does have to wonder just where the the Australian Forest Products Association obtains their industry information.  It certainly cannot be from the industry they claim to represent.  Maybe too many toilet roll incident moments.


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