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‘Pro-wood’ approach unfair, inefficient: steel industry

Media release

20 March 2014

Labour ‘pro-wood’ approach unfair and inefficient says steel industry

The ‘pro-wood’ policy announced by Labour at yesterday’s Forestwood conference is unfair because it disadvantages other building materials, says the body representing New Zealand’s diverse metals industries, Metals NZ.

Gary Hook, Metals NZ Chief Executive, says Labour’s policy is picking winners, rather than letting the market decide on the best solution.

“The idea that new government-funded buildings up to four-storeys high must consider wood as a building option undermines the technical expertise of structural engineers, architects and quantity surveyors.

“These professional advisers are the best people to evaluate the most suitable building materials based on the desired product performance and commercial outcomes for a particular project – not the government.”

The policy also feels like a step backwards to the days of more red tape, says Mr Hook.

“Forcing a wood option to be considered for all government-funded projects at the design stage is inefficient because it will simply add paperwork, delays and ultimately more cost to building projects.”

Mr Hook says over the past decade the structural steel industry in New Zealand has invested millions of dollars in R&D, new technology and people. Government support received by the industry has been limited to contestable funding.

“For example, in partnership with Auckland and Canterbury universities, our industry has developed world-leading seismic-resisting steel framing systems which are being employed in Christchurch and elsewhere.

“Structural steel now represents 60 per cent of the multi-level construction market nationally, and our recent estimates show this at 77% in the Christchurch CBD. The gains we have made, and the jobs and economic benefits we have created along the way, will be placed at risk by this policy. We’re simply asking for a level playing field.”


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