Forestry has a strong fu­ture, Sen­a­tor tells con­fer­ence

Australian Forests and Timber - - Fwpa / Dana Insights & Outlook Conference -

“T he ul­ti­mate chal­lenge for your sec­tor is be­ing a large and cru­cial part of Aus­tralia’s re­new­able en­ergy fu­ture”

In Aus­tralia – where en­ergy re­li­a­bil­ity, se­cu­rity and af­ford­abil­ity are be­ing af­fected by in­creas­ing reliance on in­ter­mit­tent re­new­able sources of en­ergy and age­ing coal-fired gen­er­a­tors – wood fi­bre and biomass is a po­ten­tial, trans­for­ma­tive so­lu­tion to a very mod­ern chal­lenge.

That was the view ex­pressed by As­sis­tant Min­is­ter for Agri­cul­ture and Water Re­sources, Sen­a­tor Anne Rus­ton in her key­note ad­dress to the In­sights and Out­look Con­fer­ence in Mel­bourne re­cently.

“The sun doesn’t al­ways shine and the wind doesn’t al­ways blow, but you can al­ways de­pend on trees!

“They can be the source of the baseload en­ergy we sorely need,” the Sen­a­tor told del­e­gates.

“And while they’re all grow­ing they can soak up bil­lions of tonnes of car­bon diox­ide, turn­ing it into wood and cel­lu­lose and oxy­gen with the aid of noth­ing more than some water and sun­light.

“For me, this is the ul­ti­mate chal­lenge for your sec­tor -- be­ing a large and cru­cial part of Aus­tralia’s re­new­able en­ergy fu­ture,” she said.

Every part of the Sen­a­tor’s ad­dress struck a chord with the 100-strong crowd.

In her view trees are awe­some; they grow things we can eat; they pro­vide shel­ter and shade; they’re a win­dow on the past.

“As I have said be­fore, trees are the ul­ti­mate re­new­able, re­cy­clable source of en­ergy and build­ing ma­te­ri­als.

“Of course that’s not new. That’s an­cient.

“Peo­ple have been us­ing wood as a source of en­ergy and build­ing ma­te­ri­als ever since there have been peo­ple.

“We still do,” the Sen­a­tor said.

“As a sup­porter and ad­vo­cate for re­gional Aus­tralia, I love how the forestry and wood prod­ucts sec­tor sup­ports the eco­nomic vi­a­bil­ity and sus­tain­abil­ity of so many re­gional com­mu­ni­ties.

“I love how it sup­ports more than 64,000 Aus­tralian jobs, many of them in re­gional ar­eas.

“I love how it con­trib­utes more than $23 bil­lion to our econ­omy, in­clud­ing more than $8 bil­lion in trade.

“I love the agility of this sec­tor: how it has adapted over the years to new op­er­at­ing en­vi­ron­ments; and how it has coun­tered threats and ad­dressed chal­lenges.

“I love this sec­tor’s en­thu­si­asm and ca­pac­ity for in­no­va­tion, and for adopt­ing and ap­ply­ing new tech­nolo­gies.

“And most of all, I love this sec­tor’s po­ten­tial for growth and its po­ten­tial to trans­form into some­thing not only dif­fer­ent – but much greater.

“I also love how forestry sec­tor lead­ers are em­brac­ing and fol­low­ing through on this vi­sion of the fu­ture,” she told del­e­gates.

She said she thought a great ex­am­ple of the in­dus­try’s in­no­va­tion and its broader ben­e­fits was the XLam cross­lam­i­nated tim­ber fac­tory at Wodonga... which be­com­ing in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar in Aus­tralia, be­ing used in some high-pro­file con­struc­tion projects around Aus­tralia.

Her fi­nal mes­sage to the con­fer­ence was ...”You have a fine blue­print to work with. It sets your goals and your as­pi­ra­tions, but re­mem­ber that this is the be­gin­ning of shap­ing the fu­ture, rather than the end.

“The Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment thinks that fu­ture is very bright, and we look for­ward to help­ing you achieve it.”

Trees are the ul­ti­mate re­new­able, re­cy­clable source of en­ergy and build­ing ma­te­ri­als.

Sen­a­tor Rus­ton dur­ing her ad­dress to the In­sights and Out­look Con­fer­ence in Mel­bourne.

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