The South Australian Government has allocated the final round of funding under the South-East Forestry Partnership Program. Source: ABC News, 891 ABC Radio
Money from the $27 million fund has been granted in three phases.
The latest recipients will share in $7.1 million to encourage innovation and increase efficiency and value adding to products.
Six projects have been selected, including $1.87 million to South-East Pine Sales to implement a new softwood sawmill process and a timber treatment facility.
H&L Scheidl will receive $1 million for a new drying facility and treatment plant and Timberlink Australia will use $1.1 million for a new high-speed sorter, scanner, stacker and grading system.
Other companies to receive money are Roundwood Solutions, 3RT Holdings and the Association of Green Triangle Growers.
Each company is also making its own contribution, taking the total investment to about $25 million.
The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union welcomed the allocation of funds but said more money was needed to boost the industry.
Greater Green Triangle secretary Brad Coates said large-scale investment was required to guarantee forestry’s future in the south-east.
“It’s actually small amounts of money considering the investment that the industry needs to continue to create, good, sustainable value adding jobs going into the future,” he said.
“We need large investments of probably over $100 million to back up the resource issues that we’ve got here.”
He said the local forestry industry needed to concentrate on value adding.
“The way the industry is dealing with it at the moment is it’s just a mad rush to sell as many logs and as many chips to places like China and Korea and India as they can and obviously there is no long-term sustainable job creation in that because there is no value-adding manufacturing jobs being created,” he said.
Forests Minister Leon Bignell said $27 million was a big spend and the State Government was always looking to partner with the agribusiness sector.
He said the grants program was focused on encouraging innovation and preserving south-east jobs.
It is anticipated that to 300 jobs will need to be filled in the Green Triangle forestry industry by the end of next year. It was among issues raised in submissions to a federal government-led discussion paper. The issue was discussed at the Mount Gambier Timber Industry Club annual scholarship presentation evening.