The Government is stepping in over the GIB crisis, 1News can reveal.
Building Minister Megan Woods has been holding crisis meetings in recent weeks as builders continue to struggle to access plasterboard products.
A high level task force is being set up to deal with ways to fix the shortage.
It’ll give advice to those struggling to get alternative plasterboard products and troubleshoot any issues.
And an urgent letter has been sent by Woods to Fletcher Building, who has been in the spotlight over the issue. The company owns 94% of the plasterboard market, through GIB.
It also has trademarks over the name of certain plasterboard products, such as the word “blue”. Woods has asked them to urgently stop threatening legal action over the use of those terms, and asked them to publicly commit to that move.
On Monday, the Shareholders Association and Simplicity NZ called for Fletcher board chairman Bruce Hassall to resign and an external review to be held into the company’s risk processes and culture.
The task force will look at ways to streamline products that are untested in the New Zealand market, and explore new products.
Some big names in the industry will be part of the group, including Naylor Love chief executive Rick Herd, Simplicity Living’s Shane Brealey and Monopoly Watch’s Tex Edwards.
Fletcher Building said: "We acknowledge the announcement by Minister Woods, and welcome any initiative which constructively reviews the current challenges facing the building industry, including the temporary shortage of plasterboard and the surge in demand."
"We note that the task force will look at trademarks. So far this year, we’ve already granted non-exclusive, royalty-free licences to 10 parties to allow them to import foreign-made plasterboard, which may otherwise breach our trademarks. We voluntarily and willingly agreed to this well before the recent media interest to increase the amount of plasterboard in the market.
"This morning we confirmed to the minister that we will grant similar licences on similar terms to other parties until May 2023 after which time our new factory in Tauranga will be operational and more than meet the current demand requirements."
ACT's David Seymour said it was a "bad joke" the Government was proposing more bureaucracy by way of a task force to deal with the issue.
It said MBIE should be tasked to create a materials equivalent register, allowing councils to approve the use of equivalent GIB products from overseas, especially for dry parts of a home.
National's Christopher Luxon said it was willing to work with the Government on urgent legislation to allow the importation of overseas plasterboard that meet Australasian standards, and stopping councils having discretion to be able to reject its use.
"It's an urgent issue needing urgent action, not another working group."