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Former forestry minister Joel Fitzgibbon retires from Federal Parliament

Joel Fitzgibbon

Former Federal Forestry Minister and co-convenor of the Federal Parliamentary Friends of Forest Industries group Joel Fitzgibbon today announced his retirement from Federal Parliament. Source: Timberbiz

Mr Fitzgibbon was Shadow Minister for Mining, Energy and Forestry 2003–05, and Minister in 2013.

He quit the shadow ministry where he was again Shadow Agriculture Minister in November last year, warning the party risked alienating voters in regional seats like his own coalmining electorate of Hunter in pushing ambitious short-term climate policies.

While saying climate change was an important issue for the majority of Australians, Mr Fitzgibbon said the issue “should not be the subject of constant and shrill political debate”.

The Australian Forest products Association today paid tribute to Mr Fitzgibbon.

“For many years Joel has been a champion of Australia’s forest industries,” AFPA CEO Ross Hampton said.

“Holding the Forestry portfolio during his career, he spearheaded Labor’s strong forestry policies at the last Federal Election.

“Joel has importantly also provided bipartisan support for our sustainable native forest industries, at odds with what we’ve seen with Labor governments in Victoria and WA – recognising its importance to the economy and the fact that plantation forestry cannot offset the loss of our native resource,” Hampton said.

“Furthermore, Joel has dedicated his time in Parliament to co-convening the Federal Parliamentary Friends of Forest Industries group, alongside Liberal Member for Barker Tony Pasin.

“Through this office Joel has helped us educate and inform Federal Parliament of the sustainable nature of forestry in Australia and the vital role forest products play in our everyday lives, from hardwood flooring and softwood building framing, through to packaging for our food and pallets, to get the food into the supermarkets,” he said.

“Forest products are carbon storing and as long as trees are replanted after harvest, as we do in Australia, that can continue indefinitely. Timber and wood fibre is ‘the ultimate renewable’ and Joel has been a strong advocate in the Federal Parliament.

“Serving as Member for Hunter since 1996, Joel has always listened to the science on the sustainability of our industries, and we thank him for that. Forest industries wish Joel all the best in future endeavours.”