The Tasmanian Premier has turned the first sod on construction of a new plywood mill in the state’s north-west. Source: ABC News
About 200 jobs are expected to be created through the construction and operation of the mill next to Ta Ann’s existing Smithton factory.
Half of the $15 million investment comes from a Federal Government grant connected to the Tasmanian forests agreement.
A bill to repeal the agreement has passed Tasmania’s Lower House but still needs the approval of the Legislative Council.
Speakers at the sod-turning including Senator Richard Colbeck, Braddon MP Brett Whitelely and Premier Will Hodgman, emphasised the Federal and State governments’ wish to increase timber supply.
Mr Hodgman said the project was a sign of renewed confidence in Tasmania.
“[There are] new opportunities for an industry that has suffered under a Labor- Green government,” he said.
But the Opposition accused the State Government of hypocrisy for using the mill project to spruik its forestry policy.
During the sod-turning, Senator Colbeck said the Liberals’ plan to re-classify some native forests for logging will help Ta Ann.
“We have a company here who is looking to have a sustained future, and the tragedy of the Tasmanian forests agreement is that it didn’t provide a sustainable resource,” he said.
Ta Ann’s Greg Hickey said the reclassified land would not help his company.
“We won’t be accepting wood from any of those areas.” He said customers would not buy products made from contentious wood.
Labor leader Bryan Green labelled Mr Hodgman a hypocrite.
“We’ve got a situation today where the Premier of Tasmania turns the first sod on a project that he argued against funds going to the whole way through,” he said.
The mill is expected to begin operating by December.