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Tasmanian sawmillers in the Liberals’ sights for upcoming election

A re-elected Liberal Government in Tasmania would extend all existing native wood supply contracts for 14 Tasmanian sawmillers beyond the current 2027 expiry date, to 2040. Source: Timberbiz

Premier Jeremy Rockliff said that with State Labor Governments across the country ending native forestry and demand for wood increasing, the Liberals know that Tasmanian businesses need resource certainty for the future.

“This is why we announced that we would make available up to 158,000 additional cubic metres of sawlog to industry by unlocking the State’s Wood Bank,” Mr Rockliff said.

“With this additional volume coming online, we are now able to extend wood supply contracts which will provide new certainty for multi-generational Tasmanian businesses.

“This is certainty to invest, grow and create jobs.”

A re-elected Liberal Government would also update Sustainable Timber Tasmania’s Ministerial Charter to focus on supporting the development of Tasmanian-based wood processing, as it has done in past years.

The Tasmanian Forest Products Association welcomed the second day of forestry policy announcements by the Tasmanian Liberals ahead of the 23 March state election.

TFPA Chief Executive Officer Nick Steel said these policies would benefit the sustainable forestry industry, Tasmanian jobs, and the economy.

“It’s pleasing to see the Liberals have recognised the importance of the first priority in the TFPA Election Wish List – Supporting Tasmanian Businesses,” Mr Steel said.

“Continuing its commitment to the State’s On-Island Processing Grants program will make a real difference to Tasmanian forestry businesses and their ability to adapt to future demands.

“And we welcome the Liberals commitment to updating Sustainable Timber Tasmania’s (STT) Ministerial Charter to focus on backing the industry and Tasmanian jobs.

“We stand ready to continue to work with the Tasmanian Liberals to ensure the updating of STT’s Ministerial Charter will achieve the best benefit for all Tasmanians,” Me Steel said.

However, Mr Steel said there was still more work to be done.

“We look forward to working with the Liberals in developing its plantation forestry policy and are seeking a commitment to the retooling and reskilling of our processing businesses to make best use of that plantation resource as it becomes available,” Mr Steel said.

“(Friday’s) announcement is a great start in protecting jobs, boosting the Tasmanian economy and allowing the forestry industry to continue to sequester carbon to meet Tasmania’s tough climate change ambitions.

“Whilst there’s still more work to be done on the Liberal’s plan, the TFPA welcomes the chance to work with them to provide certainty for the industry, improve the lives of Tasmanian families and the economy in the years ahead,” Mr Steel said.

Resources Minister Felix Ellis Ellis announced the policy on Friday during a visit to McKay Timber’s Glenorchy sawmill.

He said the destruction of native forestry by State Labor Governments in mainland states had put new pressures on Tasmanian forestry.

“Updating STT’s Ministerial Charter will ensure that its focus continues to be squarely on backing in Tasmanian industry because Tasmanian wood should support Tasmanian jobs,” Mr Ellis said.

“All of this is on top of the support provided to help Tasmanian sawmillers and processers upgrade and move further up the value chain through our On-Island Processing Program.

“A re-elected majority Liberal Government will build on the success of our On-Island Processing Program by committing an additional $5 million to this program.

“Already, this program has supported upgrades and projects across Tasmania, helping local businesses turn existing wood supplies, as well as residues, into higher-value products,” he said.

“This includes projects such as McKay Timber’s truss plant facilities for the manufacture of wall and roof trusses and upgraded finger jointing and laminating plant.”

McKay Timber general manager Brett McKay welcomed the extended contracts.

“Every business looks for certainty moving forward into the future, sovereign risk is always top of the list for anyone, we are very pleased to see the extension come forward to 2040,” he told the Mercury.

However, Mr McKay was lukewarm on the government’s proposal to “unlock” 40,000ha of native forests.

“None of us really want to go back to the old days,” Mr McKay said.

Mr Ellis said that under the Liberals’ watch, forestry has had the confidence and security to invest and grow. Jobs, investment, wood production and exports are up.

“It’s a far cry from the desperate days of the Labor-Green Government when forestry was gutted and two out of every three jobs in the sector lost.

“Labor simply cannot be trusted on forestry,” he said.

“Given half a chance they will do a deal again with the Greens and the Coalition of Chaos which would shut down an industry which is vital to our building sector and also providing fibre for a plastic-free future.”