NZ to Cut Barriers for Building Material Imports Post-Election?

The incoming Luxon government is looking to cut red-tape to reduce costs and stimulate the country's construction industry

Tue 17 Oct 23


NZ will have a new Prime Minister after NZ National Christopher Luxon defeated Labour’s Chris Hopkins on Saturday.

Whilst counting continues, Wood Central can report that Christopher Luxon is in a strong position to secure government with the support of the ACT Party and, potentially, Winston Peters NZ First Party.

Over the last month, Wood Central has covered the policy positions of National and Labour, with forestry emerging as a hot button following Cyclone Gabrielle.

With the election of PM Luxon, attention now turns to National’s “Better Building and Construction Policy,” which proposed a boost in funding for the Building Research Association of New Zealand (BRANZ) to drive greater sustainability in the built environment.

As revealed in National’s manifesto, “Breaking the Barriers to Building and Construction,” the new government claimed that regulations governing construction materials “are too rigid” and lead to a breakdown in the supply chain.

It claimed that building materials and product systems that meet international standards at least equivalent to New Zealand “will be approved for use.”

It also said that current rules have led to high market concentrations of certain building products, with a lack of competition driving higher prices.

Crucially, “this includes American, European, British and Australian standards,” with “MBIE notified of all newly imported building materials for approval.”

Wood Central understands that the policy could lead to more standards that meet ISO requirements or equivalent, being approved as part of the government’s push to keep material costs down and stimulate growth.

According to an anonymous source connected to the timber industry, the cost of timber framing has been up to 80% more expensive in New Zealand than in Australia due to a lack of competitiveness.

In the days leading up to the election, Wood Central reported that NZ Maori leaders launched High Court action against the NZ Government over what it considered “prejudical” reforms to the Emission Trading Scheme.

Labour and National committed to reforming the ETS, with Luxon “promising to limit forestry in the ETS – and prohibit foreign investment in farm-to-forestry conversion,” considered a red flag by the forest industry.

In August, PM Luxon revealed the party’s ETS policy and pushed to prohibit foreign investment in farm-to-forestry conversion. Footage courtesy of @StuffNewZealand.

Nonetheless, according to the NZ Forest Owners Association, the new government has committed to providing “certainty and support to the forestry and wood processing industry” and has “recognised its economic and environmental advantages.”

“Environmentally friendly wood products, such as more timber high-rise buildings and biofuels, are the way of the future, but also the realisation of the huge carbon sequestration capacity of exotic forests,” Grant Dodson, the NZFOA President, said in a media statement.

“We welcome National’s undertaking to review the charges to run the Emissions Trading Scheme, significant cost increases which the Chris Hipkins Labour government announced recently.”

According to Mr Dodson, there is no guarantee that a National government will meaningfully reduce the charges … “but it is a clear indication they appreciate our industry.” 

Another indication is National stating that it will “reverse the regressive policy introduced by the Labour Party to require council consents for all new forestry planting”.

Incoming NZ PM Christopher Luxon addressed supporters after former PM Chris Hipkins’s defeat. Footage courtesy of @newshubnz

A former Air NZ chief executive, Christopher Luxon, 53, will be sworn in as the country’s 42nd Prime Minister and has now returned to power with a win that has seen several Labour strongholds defeated.

“You have reached for hope and voted for change,” Dodson announced after his election win.

Mr Luxon will reveal the new cabinet later this week, with Wood Central providing live coverage.


  • Jason Ross

    Jason Ross, publisher, is a 15-year professional in building and construction, connecting with more than 400 specifiers. A Gottstein Fellowship recipient, he is passionate about growing the market for wood-based information. Jason is Wood Central's in-house emcee and is available for corporate host and MC services.


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