Ministerial change sees forests and timber overlooked again
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.”