National Cabinet should find ways to increase housing made from timber

Harnessing the construction and carbon credentials of sustainably grown Australian timber to help solve the country’s housing crisis should be on today’s National Cabinet agenda, Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) Natasa Sikman said today.


“The Albanese Government and Federal Parliament are looking for solutions to help solve the national housing shortage and provide a range of home options, while also scoping out ways to decarbonise and fight climate change. Using timber to build new homes can help on both policy fronts while also helping the supply side of the industry,” Natasa Sikman said.


AFPA is calling for specific policies to increase detached housing alongside ways to drive medium and high-density options. The Government should consider measures to help increase supply to help first home buyers and essential workers access the detached market, while the construction and supply materials industry, including timber, also needs confidence to grow a steady supply of new dwellings.


“Confidence for the supply side of the detached homes is essential and Housing Minister Julie Collins has acknowledged this citing very high demand for housing – but that building approvals and commencements have collapsed. The Housing Industry Association (HIA) predicts the number of detached housing starts will fall below 100,000, for the first time in a decade in 2024, down from 149,000 in 2021, yet population continues to grow rapidly.  Lending has also fallen to its lowest levels in a decade,” Natasa Sikman said.


“Building new detached homes from timber is also good for fighting climate change and is critical to maintaining the workers needed across supply chains to ensure Australia increases its sovereign capability and confidence within the construction sector currently impacted by the downturn in demand for new builds.


“The typical timber house frame absorbs 9.5 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere, or the equivalent of offsetting the emissions of four petrol powered cars off Australia’s roads for a whole year. However, more timber in housing construction also requires the nation to plant more production trees to supply that timber into the future.


“Harnessing the power of forestry and timber to build new homes will have enormous benefits for the country in terms of providing the housing the country needs, fighting climate change and supporting the industry which supplies the materials for construction. I encourage National Cabinet to look at these options,” Natasa Sikman concluded.


AFPA will continue to engage with Housing Minister Julie Collins through the consultation on the National Housing and Homelessness Plan Issues Paper.


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