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21 September 2021

South Australian Independent Senator Rex Patrick has welcomed the Government’s plans to expand an existing transport subsidy scheme to get fire affected timber off Kangaroo Island.

“This is the result of months of work, lobbying, negotiating and collaborating between State and Federal Governments, the Australian Forestry Products Association, sawmills and myself. Finally there’s a means to get KI timber to the saw-mills, so it can be processed and used to address severe market shortages for Australians trying to build or upgrade their homes,” said Senator Patrick.

“I thank Senator Duniam for his efforts in achieving this important outcome. When I first started discussing the KI timber issue with him in March, it was clear he was interested in finding a solution.”

The Federal Government’s HomeBuilder scheme was good for promoting construction, but it also highlighted some glaring weaknesses in the timber supply chain, including a high level of dependency on imported timber. Australia needs to be planning for our needs in twenty-five to thirty years and planting now to meet them - that’s the required lead time for plantation timber.  

Senator Patrick said “Both COVID and the 2019-20 summer bushfires have been disrupters to timber supply and this program will assist in addressing supply issues.”

“Deemed not required by the South Australian Government last year when a matched subsidy was made available, it’s good to see they now recognise the impact of the fires on South Australians and the effect it has had on timber availability.”

“This decision will see our sawmills getting logs and our cabinetmakers and builders getting the timber so that South Australians can get their houses finished and furnished.” 

“Further work is needed by the Government to ensure our logs are not being exported to other countries while we have domestic shortages, but today’s announcement is a good start.”