The new State Government in New South Wales has been urged to address the state’s looming timber supply challenges as a priority and to protect forest workers from workplace harassment and trespass. Source: Timberbiz
AFPA NSW CEO Victor Violante said NSW needs to significantly grow its timber and wood fibre supply to meet future housing construction and paper packaging demand, and securing our sovereign capability in these essential products should be a priority for the new NSW Government.
And Australian Forest Contractors Association general manager Carlie Porteous said the association and its strong membership base in NSW were looking forward to working with the newly elected NSW Labor Government on forest health and management, as well as legislation to secure the safety of all forest workers from workplace harassment and trespass.
Labor’s Chris Minns will become the next premier of NSW after seizing power from the Coalition on Saturday in an election bloodbath, especially in Western Sydney.
Mr Minns entered the election with 36 seats and needed to win 11 to govern outright. By 9pm he had already claimed the necessary 47.
Labor went into the election promising to establish a Great Koala National Park if elected comprising existing national parks and state forests between Kempsey and Grafton.
The proposed area for the park would protect roughly 20% of the state’s koala population.
“AFPA NSW welcomes some of the positive commitments NSW Labor made for forest industries before the election, including to ‘immediately begin work on how to expand existing plantation estates across NSW’, work with industry on a potential statewide timber encouragement procurement policy, and boost the role of renewable wood fibre in the circular economy, and we look forward to working with the Minns Government on delivering on these commitments,” Mr Violante said.
“However, we remain concerned about the impact of Labor’s commitment to create a Great Koala National Park on the future of thousands of timber jobs and the supply of essential timber products across NSW.
“NSW Labor has committed to work with the timber industry and to do due diligence on the implementation of a Great Koala National Park. We urge the Minns Government to listen to the science, which shows that the state’s sustainable, regenerative native forestry operations have no impact on koala numbers while contributing $2.9 billion annually to the state economy.”
AFPA NSW recently released its six-point plan to grow the state’s forestry, timber and paper sector, and received positive responses from the major parties as well as the Shooter, Fishers and Farmers, and One Nation.
“We rely on forest industries in our everyday lives from the timber to build our homes, the paper and cardboard packaging our food comes in, the pallets that transport our food, and the firewood to heat our homes,” Mr Violante said.
“AFPA NSW looks forward to working with the Minns Government to ensure the people of NSW continue to have access to locally sourced and manufactured timber and paper products.
“We will also continue to work with the Coalition Opposition and the crossbench who have been strong supporters of our forest industries. I thank the Coalition for their strong support in Government, particularly through the bushfires and floods – their continued support and targeted assistance saved jobs and businesses and leaves a lasting legacy,” Mr Violante said.
Ms Porteous said the AFCA thanked the Coalition for years of genuine engagement on forestry issues.
“AFCA has enjoyed a positive and constructive relationship with the NSW Coalition over a number of years, and especially wishes to thank Minister Saunders and his office,” she said.
“AFCA and its strong membership base in NSW look forward to working with the newly elected NSW Labor Government on forest health and management, as well as legislation to secure the safety of all forest workers from workplace harassment and trespass.
“NSW forestry workers deserve protections from assault and tactics to impair equipment by trespassers. This is a workplace and safety should be of paramount importance for any government.”
Ms Porteous said the proposed Great Koala National Park had the potential to lead to native environments that were not well managed and a potential exit of skilled labour if the science was not considered.
“The Department of Primary Industries has done significant research on the impact of the sustainable native hardwood industry in NSW on Koala populations, citing no negative impacts,” she said.
“AFCA looks forward to a comprehensive stakeholder engagement process by NSW Labor on this issue and others.
“AFCA looks forward to engaging with the newly elected NSW Labor Government on these important issues.”