Federal Parliament embraces forestry and timber industries
IN A dramatic illustration of cross-party support for the nation’s sustainable forestry and forest product industries, the Australian Labor Party and Coalition Parties have agreed to the creation of a Federal Parliament “Friends of Forestry and Forest Products” group.
The new group will be co-convened by the Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Joel Fitzgibbon from the ALP and Tony Pasin the Liberal Member for Barker in the South Australian Green Triangle area.
And, in a show of industry acceptance of the move, the Australian Forest Products Association says it is “ready to assist in any way we can as the participating MPs and Senators seek to better understand the Australian tree growing, replanting, milling and associated manufacturing industries in their electorates or states”.
“Our world renowned forestry and forest products industries provide year round jobs for some 80,000 Australians - many in regional areas. It is vital that national policy settings acknowledge this fact and address some of the urgent challenges we face
a carbon constrained global economy the world is
“We will only get those appropriate policy settings if our national leaders are well informed.
“I congratulate the Member for Barker Mr Pasin and the Member for Hunter Shadow Minister Fitzgibbon for adding this vital work to their extremely crowded agendas in Parliament House,” Ross said.
In stressing the importance of the group, Mr Pasin said: “The forestry sector in the south-east of South Australia is the fundamental driver of the economy so raising awareness among my parliamentary colleagues of the importance of forestry and forest products in particular is something I’m pretty keen to achieve”.
Mr Fitzgibbon said: “A critical sector for our economy, and a sector which has been held back environment – it’s unnecessary and we can get that balance right”
Senator Richard Colbeck, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, said that March the aspiration then was to take forestry out of the political cycle and to make the industry one that didn’t have to be concerned about when the next election was coming around ... “to make it an industry that could get on with the job and not have to continue coming to government for assistance because it was being readjusted”.
“I agree with Joel, Australia is probably 10 years behind Europe, a long way behind Canada and also behind New Zealand. My aspiration would be to bring us up to the lead and the products that we have available in Australia I think provide us with the opportunity to take some of the next steps in the development of products out of timber. For example, Australian hardwood going into CLT could take that whole concept to another design level.
“There are huge opportunities that exist here in this country, so it’s really great to see such strong support from across the Parliament. I look forward to engaging with you all under the leadership of Joel and Tony. I congratulate both of you on the work that you’ve done putting this together; it’s really fantastic. But more importantly I look forward to being able to put in place strong policies that provide for what is an important future for a very important industry for the country, but particularly for regional Australia,” said Senator Colbeck.