The Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) has welcomed the call by the Federal Opposition’s Housing Spokesperson Jason Clare in support of a new housing stimulus package to combat the forecast significant demand drop in new housing construction caused by CoVid-19 impacts.
In a statement Mr Clare said, “The pipeline of work in the housing construction industry is drying up and will result in a sharp decline in work for lots of tradespeople and small and family businesses – unless action is taken.”
Labor’s call echoes those of AFPA, other industry groups and social services organisations and comes as Australia’s softwood timber processing industry forecasts a major drop in timber demand, with some mills already reducing production and staffing.
AFPA CEO Ross Hampton said, “Labor has called on the Federal Government to work with superannuation funds and the private sector, to lead the recovery with investments in social and affordable housing, and other private and public sector construction. Australia’s softwood timber processing industry supplies most of the renewable timber products for new houses built in Australia and a substantial portion of multi-unit and commercial construction. Our member companies are already feeling the impact of the slowdown in construction and we estimate sawn timber demand will drop by at least 50 per cent over the next six months.”
“Any stimulus for new home construction is felt right along the timber supply chain and that includes regional Australia where many of the sawmills are located. There are more than 45,000 Australians employed in the sector and in many cases this job is the primary bread winner of the family. You help one part of that supply chain and everyone benefits.”
“The housing construction sector is the engine room for growth and jobs in Australia’s economy and the softwood timber processing sector is the ‘canary in the coal mine’ signalling changes in demand. It’s now feeling the impact of a slowdown, as are companies right along the supply chain.”
“Any large recovery stimulus package focused on increasing new housing demand also supports jobs and communities in parts of Australia where softwood processing is the major economic driver,” Mr Hampton concluded.