CANBERRA, AAP – The federal government has set up a new $15.1 million program to help alleviate critical timber shortages in the housing construction industry.

The program will target timber on Kangaroo Island and support the transportation of bushfire-salvaged softwood to timber mills, unlocking vital materials for 10,000 new homes.

Housing Minister Michael Sukkar said the program would give the construction industry a boost and help address building material shortages.

“The Morrison government is backing in the building and forestry industries to keep the Australian economy growing and employing Australians,” he said in a statement on Tuesday.

“By ensuring our supply chains can support the pipeline of new builds, we are helping people get into their new homes as soon as possible.”

The construction and home building industries applauded the initiative.

Master Builders Australia chief executive Denita Wawn said it was a “great move”.

“The acute timber shortage is causing delays and cost increases that are hurting our members and negatively impacting their clients,” she said.

“Builders and tradies around the country will be breathing a sigh of relief.”

Housing Industry Association managing director Graham Wolfe said the residential building industry had been navigating its way through a period of record building activity.

But at the same time, the impact of COVID has put constraints on building materials and delayed the commencement of new projects.

“Timber supply in particular has been affected by a range of factors, including last year’s bushfires and skyrocketing global demand,” Mr Wolfe said.