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Friday Analysis: The gift of certainty comes early for the timber industry

Former WA Forestry Minister Dave Kelly.

Just when things start to slow down for the Christmas break, the busier things get.
The Federal Government’s commitment to retain Australia’s Regional Forest Agreements is just the sort of good news the nation’s timber industry needs as the year draws to a close.
The commitment is part of the Federal Government’s decision to establish a new environment protection agency with powers to decide whether or not developments proceed and to enforce laws designed to protect and restore nature in response to a review of national environmental laws.
It comes two years after the former competition watchdog Graeme Samuel delivered that review to the former Morrison government. The Coalition never formally responded.
The government has proposed applying the new national standards to the RFAs which have been exempt from the current State environmental laws.
Australian Forest Products Association Chief Executive Officer Ross Hampton said the announcement by Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek provided much-needed certainty to tens of thousands of timber workers.
Mr Hampton said forest industries welcomed the Federal Government’s rejection of the bulk of Samuel’s recommendations around RFAs, which would have significantly undermined the continued operation of the hardwood timber industry and the national supply of many essential products.
That’s the sort of Christmas present – the gift of certainty – the industry has been looking for.
Meanwhile, in Western Australia where things are done differently to the rest of the country, the State’s Forestry Minister Dave Kelly has been shown the Cabinet door.
Mr Kelly made the announcement at a press conference outside parliament on Thursday.
He said he resigned at the request of Premier Mark McGowan, who is seeking renewal in his Cabinet and in particular to introduce more women into Cabinet.
Currently, the Cabinet is made up of 12 men and five women.
So why? Good ministers do not usually get the chop for no reason. Within the Labor Party across the country factions rule and there is no reason to think that did not come into play.
And wanting more women in Cabinet, as well-intentioned as that may be, is also not a good reason to sack an able minister.
What is of note, maybe, is how the story seems to have been played down in the WA media. No shock, no amazement from anyone.
Maybe it’s just another example of the way Premier McGowan plays the game.