The Australian Government has today announced an additional $15.1 million investment to deliver bushfire-affected softwood to underutilised timber mills, and increase supply of structural timber to the housing and construction industry.

Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia David Littleproud said the government had listened to industry’s concerns to keep product moving.

“This will provide vital assistance to businesses impacted by increased demand, global supply chain delays due to COVID-19, and the lasting impacts of the 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires,” Minister Littleproud said.

“We stand ready to work with states and urge them to act swiftly to help us bring bushfire-affected construction timbers to mills with immediate capacity to produce structural timbers.

“The program will target timber on Kangaroo Island that could provide enough timber for 10,000 new houses.

“It expands our successful $15 million Forestry Salvage Transport Measure, to allow for both intrastate and interstate transport of remaining bushfire-salvaged construction grade softwood to mills in any state with capacity to process it.

“It is a responsible approach that limits the potential to distort markets, supports regional jobs, and will help keep this critical industry moving.”

Assistant Treasurer, Minister for Housing, Minister for Homelessness, Social and Community Housing Michael Sukkar said that the program would give the construction industry a boost and help address building material shortages.

“The Morrison Government is backing in the building and forestry industries to keep the Australian economy growing and employing Australians,” Minister Sukkar said.

“Australia’s construction industry is a significant contributor to our post-pandemic economic recovery. This is reflected by the fourth consecutive increase in dwelling investment in the June National Accounts, rising 1.7% since the introduction of HomeBuilder.

“We have seen more than 135,000 HomeBuilder applications and we want to get people into their new homes as soon as possible.”

Assistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries Jonno Duniam said the investment would address an immediate market need to accelerate domestic timber supplies and avoid a crucial resource going to waste.

“The building and construction industry is at a 20-year high, and the forestry industry provides vital supplies,” Assistant Minister Duniam said.

“This funding will provide timber where it’s needed most and address the time sensitives associated with processing bushfire-salvaged timber.

“This will ensure businesses are able to capture any remaining bushfire-salvaged construction grade softwood assets, which will become less viable as structural timber the longer they sit without being processed.

“Without this assistance, jobs would be lost and salvageable logs would be burned or left to rot, releasing carbon emissions into the atmosphere.

“With their support, we will ensure that the forestry and building industries can continue to boost economic growth, employ Australians and deliver a secure supply of Australian timber products to the domestic market.”