The Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) has renewed its call for an urgent housing stimulus package following today’s Housing Industry Association (HIA) forecast of an imminent, calamitous decline in new housing construction.
The HIA report, New House Sales Report for May, says, “New home sales have fallen by 22.8 per cent since the introduction on COVID-19 restrictions. In March, new home sales fell to their lowest level on record and they fell further in April. This would see home building in the December 2020 quarter at a level lower than during the 1990s recession, when the population was 32 per cent smaller than today.”
HIA’s concerning findings come as Australia’s softwood timber processing industry forecasts a major drop in timber demand, with some mills already reducing production and cutting staff.
AFPA CEO Ross Hampton said while the Morrison-McCormack Government should be commended for its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has enabled Australia to move carefully towards reopening the economy earlier than anticipated, there is an urgent need to save the housing construction sector from the looming cliff.
“The housing construction sector is the engine room for growth and jobs in Australia’s economy with more than one million Australians working across multiple industries,” Mr Hampton said.
“Australia’s timber industries supply most of the renewable timber products for new houses built in Australia and a substantial portion of multi-unit and commercial construction.”
“Timber processing companies are already feeling the impact of the slowdown in construction. We estimate sawn timber demand will drop by at least 50 per cent over the next six months and these dire forecasts are being backed up by HIA’s figures which are growing worse each month.”
“This is why AFPA, and a range of other industry bodies, are asking the Government to urgently consider a stimulus package for new homes and upgrades and renovations,” Mr Hampton concluded.