Download Latest Edition

Native forest timber industry in shock withonly weeks to go before total closure


The State Government has reneged on previous agreements by forcing the industry to shut down by the end of this year, despite agreeing to let the industry run until 2030. The WA government is in lock-step.
First they came for the fishing industry. Australia is the world’s largest island with 34,000 kilometres of coastline and more than 4,000 species of fish and yet we import 75% of our seafood. Let that sink in.
The farming industry is under severe threat from impossible green overlays and mounting bureaucracy, incredible numbers of solar panels, wind turbines and transmission lines closing down productive farming land and a rising wall of unreasonable indigenous demands.

And now both Western Australia and Victoria’s hardwood timber industries are being forced to close by the end of this year, despite both having agreements with their state governments that they would support logging until 2030. The industry accepted that date in good faith and mills and the harvesting and timber transport industries have spent millions of dollars in new equipment. Those industries are in shock.

The Andrews government assured the industry before the last election that it would support logging until 2030 and abruptly reneged on that agreement almost immediately after they won another term. There was no consultation. The same cruel blow was dealt by the McGowan government.
The McGowan government gallantly offered $350M to develop the softwood industry. The Andrews government launched a fund to help the industry and the fund is titled ‘The Sawmill Voluntary Transition Package.’ Voluntary? Really?

Good arguments can be made for phasing out the native forest hardwood industry but only if enough time is allowed to replace it with sufficient plantation hardwood and that is a sixty-year cycle. Close it down at the end of this year and that timber will be replaced from countries to our north – among others – who have far less stringent logging practices and are far less regulated and monitored. Harwood is already being brought in from overseas to fill the gap.

It is not as if this hasn’t been discussed in full over successive governments. Federal Member for Monash, veteran politician Russell Broadbent announced in federal parliament; “This is a kick in the guts for regional Australia. This is a real kick in the guts for my community and it’s immoral”. Broadbent said various federal governments have addressed the issue “We spent political blood and millions of dollars to get these regional forestry agreements up with the states and those agreements are now shattered.”
Federal member for Gippsland Darren Chester announced in parliament; “It is dangerous to live around forests that are unmanaged. People and wildlife die in poorly managed forests and Victorian Premier Dan Andrews’ plan to shutdown the native timber industry in 2024 is a plan to kill country towns, kill wildlife, and kill Australian jobs. It is a Dan-made disaster.” Recently Gippsland Water cancelled a longstanding agreement with the Country Fire Authority for forest management which leads to an increased risk of fire and this just as we enter an El Nino dry weather period.

In WA, Shadow Minister for Forestry Steve Martin lambasted the government over the loss of yet another milling operation.

“Whiteland Milling is the third timber mill to close within the last month as a direct result of the McGowan Labor Government’s attack on regional jobs. Thanks to Labor’s unscientific and cynical decision to shut down a sustainable regional Western Australian industry, dozens of workers in Busselton are now looking for a job”.

Mills in WA have advised that they can’t get logs even though the government suggests there is no issue. At the coalface it is a different story, with mills unable to source logs which essentially means the industry is shutting down well ahead of the January 1 deadline.

WA Forestry Industry Association CEO Adele Farina said that five months from the cut-off the government contacted mills across southern WA and advised them that no more logs were available and any statement to the contrary by the government is a blatant lie.

To add insult to injury, logs selected for logging are being selected for firewood according to WA’s Forest Industry Association.

Perhaps the final word goes to WA forestry consultant John Clark who said he has seen clear evidence that sawmill-quality timber was still being harvested but it was not going to mills and instead was being stockpiled for firewood. “One of my suspicions is that the minister, The Honourable Jackie Jarvis, is really concerned there will be firewood shortages next year.”

Make sense of it if you can.