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Friday analysis: much needed common sense finally prevailed

Colin Wooldrige of Whiteheads Timber inspects the KIPT logs

Common sense has prevailed with the fire-salvaged timber situation on Kangaroo Island. Bushfire-damaged timber on Kangaroo Island – enough timber for 10,000 new houses – will be sent to the mainland following a $15.1 million investment by the Federal Government.

It should have been such an easy decision, but it wasn’t.

The first problem was that the Federal Government allocated $15m from the Forestry Salvage Transport Measure to New South Wales and Victorian projects following the 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires to help get salvaged timber to the nearest operating mill.

However, Kangaroo Island, where around 90% of Kangaroo Island Plantation Timber’s trees and all of the island’s independent plantations were affected by fire, was left out of the Forestry Salvage Transport Measure funding.

The second problem was that Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers wanted to build a jetty to move timber off the island, but that proposal was eventually rejected by the State Government.

KIPT responded to this decision by announcing it would convert its plantations to farmland and that if it couldn’t get the usable timber off the island, it would be left with no other option other than burning it to reduce the fire hazard.

Bluff? Who is to know?

South Australia’s Primary Industries Minister David Basham certainly did his fair share of lobbying for the program to be extended to help SA.

Ultimately, he was of course successful, but the process took far, far too long.

Master Builders Australia chief executive Denita Wawn said it was a great move.

“The acute timber shortage is causing delays and cost increases that are hurting our members and negatively impacting their clients,” she said.

As Ms Wawn said, builders and tradies around the country will be breathing a sigh of relief.