Plasterboard taskforce to address product shortage

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The Government is setting up a Ministerial taskforce to address plasterboard shortages in New Zealand.

The taskforce will have key construction, building consent, and supply chain experts to look at what more can be done to ease plasterboard shortages, including the potential for legislative or regulatory change.

Minister for Building and Construction Megan Woods says  her top priority is to ensure builders, from big companies to single tradies have the materials they need to do their job with confidence.

Winstone Wallboards, a subsidiary of Fletcher Building, with its GIB brand of plasterboard, currently makes up around 95 per cent of the New Zealand market, and has not been able to keep up with demand.

The aim of the new taskforce is to:

-Troubleshoot the regulation of alternative plasterboard products, including examining whether legislative change or regulatory change is needed

-Look at ways to streamline the use of products that are currently untested in the New Zealand market

-Explore new distribution models

-Provide advice regarding the appropriate approach to consenting

-Act as a forum for related supply chain concerns

"While GIB is well-known, it is not the only plasterboard available," says Woods.

"The Building Code allows for the use of any product which meets performance specifications.

The taskforce has a very clear aim, to increase sector productivity as quickly as possible, and to remove any unnecessary barriers, including around certification, to facilitate the use of different types of plasterboard. I will convene our first meeting next week."

Woods says she is also concerned that trademarks on colours may be impeding the importation of alternative plasterboard brands.

"That’s why I have written to Fletcher Building to seek confirmation that they will work with the sector and not take action with regard to their trademark protections, to further free up supply."

Meanwhile, the Government is continuing to support the construction industry with a range of initiatives including:

-The Commerce Commission’s inquiry into the price of building products

-An all-of-Government supply chain monitoring group

-The Construction Sector Accord

"The Commerce Commission is currently undertaking a market study into whether competition is working in our residential building supplies market, with questions surrounding the high concentration of some brands in the supply chain," says Woods.

"I look forward to receiving the final findings of this study, along with the Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, in December.

"More homes are being built under this Government than ever before, the last two months have seen the number of new homes consented in a year break 50,000 for the first time, so working with the building sector on supply chain challenges is a priority. In my role as Minister for Building and Construction I will continue to look for further ways to ensure the system is delivering for New Zealanders."

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