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Colbeck heads meeting on issues faced by forestry

Senator Richard Colbeck

Forestry ministers from the Commonwealth, the states and territories met in Melbourne on 15 February 2019 at the Forestry Ministers Meeting to discuss ways to continue to support Australia’s forestry industries. There was one similar meeting in June last year and three in 2017. Source: Timberbiz

The ministers discussed a range of issues facing Australia’s forest industries and how governments could continue to support the sector. A major focus of the meeting was the National Forest Industries Plan launched by the Australian Government in September 2018.

In particular, the meeting discussed:

  • Regional Forestry Hubs, including potential locations.
  • The establishment of additional centres of the National Institute for Forest Products Innovation.
  • Support for farm forestry, private native forestry and forestry on Indigenous‑owned or managed land.
  • Improving the communications about the strength of the forest industries.
  • Progress on implementing the Australian Government recommendations in the report of the Forest Industry Advisory Council, Transforming Australia’s forest products industry.

Ministers reiterated their support for Australia’s forest industries, based on sustainable management of Australia’s native forests and plantations and recognised the significant contribution made by the sector to Australia’s wellbeing, and its importance to the environment, and to many rural and regional economies.

“The Liberal National Government will focus on the implementation of the National Forest Industries Plan, the National Institute for Forest Products Innovation, farm forestry, private native forestry and Indigenous forestry support,” Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Senator Richard Colbeck, said.

“It’s pleasing that the state and territories are eager to work with us on a number of the priorities in the Liberal National Government’s National Forest Industries Plan.

“The Plan will underpin growth in Australia’s renewable timber and wood fibre industry, support innovation and create jobs in regional Australia.

“Funding of $20 million has been allocated to implement elements of the plan under the four areas of ‘Creating regional forestry hubs’, ‘Reducing barriers to forestry expansion’, ‘Using our forest resources smarter’ and ‘Growing community understanding of forestry’.

“We want to give our sustainable forest industry the confidence to invest and the strategic vision to grow.

“There are tens of thousands of direct jobs in the forest industry and we all need to be doing what we can to back the industry to ensure the future of these communities and jobs.

“With the right plans in place the forestry industry has the potential to increase its contribution to the Australia economy while producing sustainable, environmentally friendly products for all Australians.”

At the Forestry Ministers meeting in June 2018, when Anne Ruston was the Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, the ministers’ discussions included:

  • progress in developing the new Australian Government plan to support Australia’s renewable timber and wood-fibre industry, announced by the Prime Minister in September 2017
  • progress on implementing the Australian Government recommendations in the report of the Forest Industry Advisory Council, Transforming Australia’s forest products industry
  • the progress of RFA processes in all four RFA states
  • the impact that log exports are having on domestic processors in some parts of Australia.

At that meeting ministers agreed that:

  • they were supportive of the development of the new National Forestry Industry Plan, noting that $20 million was announced for its implementation through the 2018‑19 Federal Budget, including for farm forestry, Indigenous forestry and public acceptance
  • the Forestry and Forest Products Committee (senior officials) would continue to report to future Forestry Ministers Meetings on the implementation of the Forest Industry Advisory Council recommendations relevant to governments
  • Australian and state governments should generally not intervene in the log export trade to avoid distorting the market.

This meeting reiterated its commitment to the RFAs and confirmed they would continue to collaborate on outcomes from RFA processes.