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Friday analysis: Timber answers are not blowing in the wind

At a time when it is obvious that what we need now, and will need into the future, is more timber than we have, taking land from timber production would seem a bit odd.

It has been reported extensively that Australia faces a timber deficit of 250,000 house frames in 15 years’ time and that a national plan is urgently needed to grow the national timber plantation estate.

This week a Bill was introduced into the NSW Parliament to increase the use of renewable energy sources in NSW.

Clearly, a good move given the climate change conundrum.

After all, renewables – and of course this includes timber as the Ultimate Renewable – are the way to ago.

The problem with the Bill was that it would allow the government to use forest plantation land to install wind turbines and other new energy technology.

That would appear, on face value at least, a “rob Peter to pay Paul” situation.

It would have meant less timber available. And the proposed legislation put jobs at risk.

The CFMEU’s Manufacturing Division clearly spotted the problem.

Wind and solar farms should not, the union believed, come at the expense of timber supply in NSW.

The union said members had recently met with politicians across the political spectrum in the context of the NSW timber industry inquiry who were keen to hear from the union about any pitfalls in the legislation.

The union suggested amendments which were ultimately accepted by the parliament resulted in important safeguards for the industry.

The union’s condition for accepting the legislation was no net resource loss for timber workers their families and communities.

It says that as a result, conversion from forest plantation owned by Forestry Corporation to non-forest use for energy infrastructure can only happen if it meets certain conditions.

One of the people who spoke up in the Legislative Council to fix this legislation was Mark Banasiak from the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party.

The union says that Mr Banasiak, as chairman of the Legislative Council’s current inquiry into the timber industry, understood what this legislation could mean for jobs.

So, credit where credit is due; the CFMEU’s Manufacturing Division did well.