Australia’s forest industries have welcomed the Federal Nationals’ push to grow jobs and population in regional Australia. Source: Timberbiz
Australian Forest Products Association Chief Executive Officer Ross Hampton said that the timber industry could play a key role driving regional employment and growth.
He was responding to comments made by Federal Regionalisation Minister Senator Bridget McKenzie at a Regions Rising event in Wodonga.
She said that Governments must make it easier for people to live and work in the bush, and push to boost the population of key regional centres.
Not all regional centres will take up the invitation to grow, she said, but she envisaged many non-capital cities “with populations well in-excess of 300,000” with targeted support from government and business.
“As a government we want to invest in regional centres that are already well-primed for growth,” Senator McKenzie said.
“I’ve asked my department to identify a group of regional cities that have met a defined set of criteria based in research that could be used as future cities of rapid growth,” Senator McKenzie said.
Mr Hampton said that the full supply chain of Australia’s forest industries, from tree growing to sawmilling and pulp and paper production already underpinned local economies across a significant number of regional centres.
“With the right government policies, forest industries can contribute so much more,” Mr Hampton said.
Nationally, a number of regional centres and towns were already highly reliant on forest industries and could benefit from the Nationals “push to the bush’’.
“The demand for timber and fibre will rapidly increase in Australia and internationally over the coming decades and we already have a shortage of products like timber framing to build new homes and timber pallets to move our food into supermarkets,” Mr Hampton said.
“It’s critical our industries grow to meet the market.
“It makes sense that forest industries are part of the Nationals’ welcome policy for regional expansion,” he said.