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SA timber mills not an essential service so they lockdown

Ian McDonnell

Urgent talks were underway this morning in a bid to get mills on the South Australian side of the Green Triangle open for business. It was hoped an exemption would be given by this afternoon. Source: Timberbiz

Ten South East mills are expected to close at a cost of almost $4m a day during the statewide seven-day Covid lockdown announced on Tuesday.

Exemptions have been allowed to allow planting and harvesting to continue.

Essential agriculture services and factories can remain open for essential machinery upkeep and production but as of Tuesday evening forestry had not been identified.

The Advertiser this morning reported that Green Triangle Forest Industries Hub chair Ian McDonnell was questioning why the industry had not been included as essential workers.

“Every state has recognised forestry and the timber sector as an essential service in recent lockdowns, largely because of the isolated nature of the work,” he said in The Advertiser.

“The South East is the powerhouse of Australia’s timber sector and a seven day shutdown will have national ramifications.

“Our mills supply the fibre that creates the toilet paper, the masks for PPE, pallets that deliver our food, sawdust to support the animal welfare in our poultry sector and importantly deliver the bulk of structural timber to sustain the already stretched construction sector.”

The Green Triangle indirectly employs 18,000 workers across the region and Mr McDonnell told The Advertiser it had worked to create a strict risk mitigation plan which was accepted by the state government 12 months ago.

“When it comes time to implement that plan its ignored,” he said.

“A one week cut off will be diabolical and will bring some businesses to breaking point.”

Kimberly Clark Australia has confirmed its Millicent Mill would continuing to operate as normal with Covid-19 precautions in place to protect staff.