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Bipartisan funding for SW Slopes’ Regional Forest Industry Hub

Ross Hampton

The Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) has welcomed funding commitments, from both the Coalition and Federal Labor, of $1 million to kickstart a Regional Forest Industry Hub in NSW’s South West Slopes (SWS) Region. These commitments mean the Hub will be funded whichever side of federal politics forms government after next weekend. Source: Timberbiz

“The SWS is one of Australia’s most important forestry regions, which is now facing significant timber supply challenges. The guaranteed establishment of a Hub, to plan the path forward will help secure future production trees and supply in the area,” Chief Executive Officer of AFPA, Mr Ross Hampton said.

“Both the Coalition and Labor acknowledge the need for 400,000 new hectares of plantations and farm forestry plantings to meet future demand.”

The plantation timber industry in the region contributes more than $1 billion to gross regional product annually and supports more than 50 per cent of jobs in the Snowy Valleys Council area, according to research.

“AFPA has called for 13 Regional Forest Industry Hubs spread across Australia, to be funded at $1 million each by the Federal Government. Prior to the Federal Election, the Coalition funded:

  • South West Western Australia
  • North and North West Tasmania
  • North East NSW
  • Green Triangle (Western VIC/South East SA)

Both the Coalition and Labor have now committed to funding the SWS Hub. The Coalition has also announced several Hubs which it would activate in 2020, but has not yet guaranteed the same funding as the trial hubs. These are:

  • Gippsland Victoria
  • Central West NSW
  • South East QLD
  • North QLD

While Labor has committed funding for the SWS Hub, it has also earmarked funding for all 13, i.e. the Hubs the Coalition has said it would activate in 2020 and the remaining Hubs requested by AFPA, which are:

  • North East Victoria
  • South East NSW
  • North Northern Territory
  • Southern Tasmania

“For all of these regions to realise greater efficiency and productivity, the full network of 13 Hubs need to be fully funded, allowing each Hub to establish a steering committee, to assess the challenges and identify the next steps of how to make these specific regions better for forest industries,” Mr Hampton said.