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Friday analysis: Tasmania backs forestry while Victoria and WA run for cover

Timberlink Bell Bay Mill

The Tasmanian Government is certainly putting its money where its mouth is in terms of forestry and timber. An investment of $6 million in a calculated bid to gain higher returns by increasing value-added production is hardly spare change.

Seven projects around Tasmania will share in a $6 million investment to help turn existing wood supplies, as well as wood residues, into higher-value products.

As Tasmanian Forest Products Association CEO Nick Steel said, the program recognises and supports Tasmania’s timber industry to continue to transform and develop into world leading producers.

The successful projects will add value to the current timber harvest, better utilise wood waste, help insulate the industry from international commodity markets, reduce the need for imported wood products and support the construction industry locally.

If only some other States would take notice of how the Tasmanian Government is prepared to back its forestry and timber industries.

The Victorian Government, when asked anything about how it is treating its native timber industry in particular, repeats its mantra that it “is investing more than $200 million for affected businesses, workers and their local communities to transition away from native timber harvesting, while providing an additional $110 million for new plantations that will support a sustainable future for our timber industry”.

The WA Government simply says nothing other than to threaten mill owners that any attempt to seek legal redress over any breach of contract because of shortage of supply would result in them missing out on any compensation from the Government’s $50 million transition package for logging businesses impacted by the native logging ban.

Bad luck that delivered volumes for the month of January fell well short of the 50% reduced volumes the State Government said it would deliver.

According to the Forest Industries Association (WA), the Premier Mark McGowan, in response to media inquiries, has barely stopped short of accusing the industry of being greedy.

In both cases, neither has bothered to reply to Federal Assistant Minister for Forestry Senator Jonno Duniam who late last year wrote to the Victorian and Western Australian governments requesting they produce the science underpinning their announcements to cease native forestry operations in 2030 and 2024 respectively.

It’s time the governments of Victoria and Western Australia addressed the issues instead of offering thinly veiled threats and meaningless platitudes.