Min­is­te­rial change sees forests and tim­ber over­looked again

Australian Forests and Timber - - FRONT PAGE -

SEV­ERAL FORESTRY in­dus­try lead­ers have ex­pressed to­tal dis­ap­point­ment that a full Min­is­ter for Forestry was not re­in­stated in the lat­est Min­istry reshuf­fle.

Pat Groen­hout (Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor of forestry com­pany P F Olsen) said “we would cer­tainly warmly wel­come the Prime Min­is­ter’s re­con­sid­er­a­tion of a full port­fo­lio for forestry.

“It’s al­ways dis­ap­point­ing when you feel like your sec­tor isn’t get­ting the key recog­ni­tion it de­serves as a key part of the econ­omy, par­tic­u­larly in re­gional Aus­tralia.”

New Forests, CEO David Brand was also sup­port­ive of in­dus­try calls for a ded­i­cated Min­is­ter for Forestry, which was abol­ished a cou­ple of years ago. “It would be ben­e­fi­cial, be­cause re­ally when you think to the fu­ture a lot of what the world is evolv­ing to is kind of a bioe­con­omy, where we’re sub­sti­tut­ing oil and coal and other fos­sil fuel based sys­tems for more re­new­able ma­te­ri­als and en­ergy sys­tems so forestry has an ex­pand­ing role to play in the econ­omy and Aus­tralia could be a world leader in that,” he said.

Ross Hamp­ton, Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer of the Aus­tralian For­est Prod­ucts As­so­ci­a­tion (AFPA) said the forestry and for­est in­dus­tries contributed more than $21 bil­lion to the econ­omy and em­ploy, across the full value chain, more than 120,000 Aus­tralians.

“The sec­tor, like the rest of agri­cul­ture, is one of the big bets for growth and ex­port in­come for Aus­tralia. In a car­bon con­strained global econ­omy plac­ing a pre­mium on re­new­able re­sources, the prod­ucts of our sus­tain­able forestry op­er­a­tions in Aus­tralia have the po­ten­tial to play a far greater role.

“A ded­i­cated Min­is­ter would de­liver the fo­cus and el­e­va­tion that would help us en­sure this vi­sion for growth and pro­duc­tiv­ity, es­pe­cially in ru­ral and re­gional Aus­tralia, is re­alised,” said Mr Hamp­ton.

As a re­sult of the Fed­eral Min­is­te­rial changes, Se­na­tor Richard Col­beck, who for­merly rep­re­sented forestry, was pro­moted to as­sis­tant Min­is­ter for Tourism and In­ter­na­tional Ed­u­ca­tion.

There was unan­i­mous back­ing for the work Se­na­tor Col­beck had done rep­re­sent­ing the in­dus­try.

In one of his last mes­sages be­fore tak­ing up his tourism role, Se­na­tor Col­beck said Aus­tralia’s fish­ing and forestry in­dus­tries con­tin­ued to re­cover un­der a Coali­tion Gov­ern­ment and had seen con­tin­ued growth over the past three years.

“Forestry prod­ucts have con­tin­ued to grow, with their value fore­cast to reach nearly $2 bil­lion in 2015–16, a 22% rise in value since 2011–12.

“The value of our for­est prod­ucts and value added ex­ports are on the rise, reach­ing nearly $2.8 bil­lion in 2014–15. This is a more than 21% in­crease since 2009–10 and re­flects strong in­ter­na­tional de­mand for our sus­tain­ably har­vested prod­ucts.”

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