Taskforce to address plasterboard shortage

Megan Woods: "My top priority is to ensure builders - from big companies to single tradies - have...
Megan Woods: "My top priority is to ensure builders - from big companies to single tradies - have the materials they need to do their job with confidence." Photo: RNZ
Minister for Building and Construction Megan Woods has set up a ministerial taskforce to address the shortage in plasterboard.

The taskforce includes key construction, building consent, and supply chain experts.

"The Government is committed to supporting the building sector to deliver the homes and buildings that New Zealand needs," Woods said today.

"That's why my top priority is to ensure builders - from big companies to single tradies - have the materials they need to do their job with confidence."

Woods is concerned that the trademarks Fletcher Building has placed on certain colours of plasterboard may be impeding the importation of alternative plasterboards.

"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."

The taskforce will look at whether regulation of alternative plasterboard products is needed, ways to streamline the use of products untested in the market, new distribution models, advise on consent approaches and act as a forum for related supply chain concerns.

"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 said.

It is made up of Naylor Love chief executive Rick Heard, Registered Master Builders Association of New Zealand chief executive Dave Kelly, Simplicity Living managing director Shane Brealey, The Warehouse founder and chair of the Tindall Foundation Sir Stephen Tindall, a LGNZ representative and 2degrees founder Tex Edwards.

KiwiSaver provider Simplicity and the Shareholders' Association yesterday called for heads to roll at Fletcher Building over the Gib shortage. The groups came away disappointed from a meeting with the company last Friday to voice their concern and criticism.

Simplicity had already dumped Fletcher Building as a supplier to its social housing project and has started importing plasterboard directly from overseas at a cheaper price and quicker delivery time.

In a letter to Fletcher Building chairperson Bruce Hassall, the groups said they were holding the board and the company fully responsible for the shortage, and criticised its attitude to stakeholders.

"We have yet to see any 'mea culpa', or substantial admittance of fault for FBU's role in the current plasterboard supply crisis. Your refusal to acknowledge the existence and depth of stakeholder dissatisfaction speaks to a corporate culture based more on hubris than humility."

They said Fletcher Building had poor risk management and business decision-making, exemplified by the way it had handled the Gib supply crisis. It called on Hassall to resign and the other directors to put themselves up for re-election at the next annual meeting.

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