TASMANIAN FOREST Contractors Association chief executive officer Ed Vincent has welcomed Green MP Kim Booth’s support of the industry, noting he is correct in being prepared to recompense those who are losing their generational businesses.
“This is a supportive position for the Greens and the wider Tasmanian community to maintain as we move into a transition process under the Statement of Principles, with the changes that this may bring.” Vincent said.
“It is very sad that the money so far made available can only deal with a small portion of the problem. We welcome Mr Booth’s support for additional funding to allow a proper exit assistance package.”
With only $17 million provided to restructure a half billion dollar industry it was inevitable that there would be many contractors disappointed with the Federal Government’s current exit assistance program leading some to question the relative merits of one applicant over another and the process of selection.
“The facts are that only DAFF knows exactly who has been made offers while nobody knows every business that will accept those offers.
“At the moment there is a lot of speculation about which businesses have or have not been offered exit assistance. Much of that speculation is unfounded and unhelpful, especially in the tough situation many forest-based businesses find themselves.
“Simply, there, was not enough money to provide the program that is required right now. This has, undoubtedly forced some very difficult decisions on the selection panel when comparing many equally needy and deserving applicants.”
Businesses that have been made exit offers are still working with their legal and financial advisors to decide whether or not to take up the offer. They have until January 21 to return acceptance documentation to the department in Canberra. In the event that businesses decline to take up their offer a second round is allowed under the program guidelines.
TFCA is committed to continue to work towards fair and equitable exit assistance for all contractors who need to leave the industry while maximising the sustainable potential of the Tasmanian forest industries to underpin rural and regional communities.