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Forestry Tasmania to be split
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Tasmania’s State Government has announced plans to carve up Forestry Tasmania following a report found it is one of the state's biggest budget risks.Resources Minister Bryan Green has announced the state-owned company will be split in two with its non-commercial functions transferred to Government departments. Source: ABC News
Mr Green said the company's projected annual cash deficits meant the status quo was no longer an option. He tabled an independent review that found the company would face substantial cash deficits for at least the next five years of $20 million to $35 million a year.
"This issue is currently one of the largest budget risks faced by the Tasmanian Government," he said.
"The risk has the potential to not only effect the staff of forestry Tasmania but also the commercial supply of wood to Tasmanian processors and management of environmental values, reserves, recreational facilities and infrastructure in the state."
Mr Green pointed out that the company's poor financial situation was not the fault of the board or employees.
"The URS stage two report confirms those predictions that Forestry Tasmania will face substation cash deficits for at least the next five years if markets don't improve."
The Opposition said the Government had not released enough detail.
Shadow Treasurer Peter Gutwein said the Minister had failed to say how many jobs would go under the change, how much it would cost and which government department would take over Forestry Tasmania's non-commercial functions, including managing reservations.
"Once again, in respect of forestry, is that we have an axe hanging over the heads of people that work in this industry in this state and there is no timeframe, there is no certainty," he said.
"What we've got here is a statement, a statement that no detail, no detail, no assurances for staff. Mr Green was forced to defend the decision to carve up the government-owned company, before even formally announcing the changes.
The Opposition claimed the planned shakeup could derail the state's long-running forest peace talks.
Lyons Labor MHR Dick Adams accused the State Government of not helping to keep the forest industry viable. He accused the Greens of successfully dismantling Forestry Tasmania.
"I am bewildered and angry at this latest attack on an industry that has been the backbone of Tasmania's economy for the past hundred years and more."
"I am devastated that it has come to this and am considering my options.
"Without a Government managing agent, the role which Forestry Tas has played so well over the decades in various forms, there will be no forestry action at all," he said.
George Harris from the Huon branch of Timber Communities Australia agreed with the Opposition that it could be a "game-changer" in the ongoing forest peace talks.