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Government says Carter Holt Harvey is ‘using’ workers

The South Australian Government will not keep “slinging money” to timber company Carter Holt Harvey according to Premier Jay Weatherill who accused the timber company of using its workers to try to “extract enormous amounts of money” from South Australia’s taxpayers. Source: Adelaide Now

Mr Weatherill said the Government had “been in a dialogue for a number of months” with Carter Holt Harvey, ForestrySA’s biggest customer, and had offered to co-invest to help the company move up the technology chain to add value to its timber products.

Mr Weatherill spoke after a meeting with union members employed by the company whose protests had put the Premier’s offices in lock- down.

Last month, the Government offered a $27 million bailout in lieu of its demand for a lower price for logs.

Carter Holt Harvey has blamed high log prices for making its business unviable going forward, warning 1000 jobs were at risk.

“Our advice is that even if we were to concede on the log prices that they’re suggesting, it wouldn’t provide a long-term future,” Mr Weatherill said. “It would be transferring $150 million to a company without having any security of having a future.”

He added the Government would not be “slinging some money to this New Zealand billionaire” referring to Carter Holt Harvey owner Graeme Hart.

“I’m angry that the company are using these workers in this way,” he said.

“Threats were issued on the Friday night that it (South East operations) would close Monday morning,” he said.

Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) Green Triangle district secretary Brad Coates said 1000 direct jobs at Carter Holt Harvey and a further 710 associated jobs in the South- East were on the line if the Government did not reduce its log price ahead of selling forestry assets.

A consortium led by US investor The Campbell Group, is in the process of buying rights to harvest ForestrySA’s plantation timber for an estimated $620 million. The deal is expected to conclude by December.