Monthly updates from top industry identities

This Month’s TALKIN’ TIMBER is with Mick Stephens, Chief Executive of Timber Queensland


mick-stephens-bio-photoHaving just moved to the Sunshine State from the icy depths of Canberra, it has been heartening to experience the reality of the familiar slogan “beautiful one day, perfect the next”.  Commencing in May as Chief Executive of Timber Queensland, working with industry and hosting the Doing Timber Business in Queensland conference has been an uplifting experience. It’s quickly become clear to me that the State’s forest and timber industry,
just like the weather, has a bright future.

Queensland’s timber industry directly supports 10,000 jobs and many more thousands along the value chain, returning $3.2 billion to the State’s economy. We have just come off the back of record state housing activity with 48,000 new dwellings last year.. There is certainly more optimism in the air which we haven’t seen for a while, particularly following the lean years in the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis. We are at the top end of a building cycle, and the medium to longer term forecast is for continuing high demand for wood. New laws to allow taller timber buildings, increasing recognition of the renewability of timber and its low carbon footprint, and innovations in wood technology, all bode well for the future.

However, we are also seeing signs of easing activity from previous high levels and this growth has not been uniform across the state. It has been strongest in the south-east of Queensland particularly in greater Brisbane, while other areas such as central and northern Queensland have seen more recent year-on-year declines in building activity.

The strong trend toward mid to high residential construction also presents opportunities in prefabrication and new building systems, but as we all know presently use less wood per square metre than a detached house. Then there are the ever present threats from our competitors in steel, concrete and other new composite products. This on top of the broad array of government regulation, standards and policies which affect the costs of doing business across the supply chain.

That is why it is imperative that we all work together to focus on our primary goal – to promote the use and consumption of timber as the world’s miracle material!

Everyone in the supply chain, whether they be forest growers, harvesters, haulers, processors, fabricators, manufacturers, wholesalers, traders or importers, share this goal. Timber Queensland shares this philosophy through its broad based membership and focus on growing the market.

In 2016-17, Timber Queensland will continue to pursue market growth through technical events with end users, input on building standards and a new initiative targeting State and local government on ‘wood first’ procurement policies.

Timber Queensland is also the primary port of call with the State Government on key issues affecting the industry, from wood supply and environmental policy through to transport regulation, timber standards, infrastructure, energy and trade policy, to name a few.

I therefore encourage timber traders and those involved in the industry supply chain to become more engaged. It is only by presenting a strong and unified industry voice that bodies such as Timber Queensland can have an impact and capture the opportunities where they may shine.