Why Timber Security is Key to Australia’s Housing Time Bomb!

Australia must address plantation establishment, which now sits at a 20-year low.

Wed 28 Feb 24


Australia’s building and construction industry is in crisis, with a rapidly increasing housing shortage, not just in 2024 but several years into the future, creating a ticking time bomb for the Albanese government, which passed landmark legislation to drive net-zero housing last year.

At the same time, housing starts have crashed from 42,000 in June 2021 to just 23,000 in September last year – that is according to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) – published earlier this month, with the slowdown in residential (and commercial) construction now biting timber manufacturers. 

Yesterday, Australia’s Shadow Housing Minister, Michael Sukkar, addressed these concerns as a keynote speaker at Canberra’s Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) members dinner – the first for the year.

According to Mr Sukkar, the key is to stimulate the building and construction industry and “make housing more affordable for more Australians.”

Assistant Trade and Manufacturing Minister Tim Ayres joined Sky News Australia to discuss the Albanese government’s plan to tackle the cost of living crisis and the growing housing crisis – footage courtesy of @SkyNewsAustralia.

Housing is a crucial concern for AFPA, which earlier this month was a key stakeholder at the National Regional Summit 2025, hosted by Regional Australia Insititute (RIA) and Master Builders Australia (MBA).

“You cannot build the carbon-friendly housing Australia needs for the future without timber,” Deputy AFPA CEO Richard Hyett said before adding that “right now, our sector has Aussie-grown timber ready to go and build the homes of tomorrow.”

And whilst the industry has timber right now, it warns that lack of investment in plantation establishment, which has led to a rapidly shrinking plantation of future softwoods, is a ticking time bomb for future supply.

Last year, then AFPA Acting CEO Natasa Sikman said the continued decline in plantations “is extremely concerning and a reminder that collectively, industry, federal and state governments and other decision and policymakers must work together to get more timber tree planted in the ground.”

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Incoming Diana Hallam will start as the new Australian Forest Products Association CEO on March 12, 2024. (Photo Credit: Supplied by Australian Forest Products Association)

Diana Hallam, AFPA’s newly appointed CEO, also attended the dinner, who will take office on Match 12, 2024. Ms Hallam is replacing Natasa Sikman, who left the post of acting CEO after a successful stint which included coordinating Australia’s largest-ever representation at the COP28 summit in Dubai late last year.

AFPA Chair Stephen Dadd announced her appointment earlier this month, remarking that Ms Hallam “has had a distinguished career spanning senior roles across government, politics and the corporate sector.”

In accepting the post, Ms Hallam – the current First Assistant Secretary in the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, said she was thrilled to lead the AFPA team.

“I look forward to meeting AFPA’s membership and working with everyone across the forest products supply chain. The industry is at the forefront of key policy challenges from climate change to economic development and sovereign capability. I look forward to getting out on the ground and talking to stakeholders about the industry’s issues and opportunities.”

Ms Hallam has now left her role as a First Assistant Secretary in the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry before the appointment. From 2014 to 2017, Ms Hallam served as Chief of Staff to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture, the Hon. Barnaby Joyce MP, following an extensive private sector career, including postings at Singapore Airlines and Toll Group.


  • 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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