Government Listening to Forestry Concerns
The Premier, Lara Giddings, today welcomed the opportunity to talk to businesses affected by the downturn in the forest industry.
Ms Giddings said the State Government is committed to restructuring the industry in response to challenges primarily caused by changes in world markets.
“It is important that we listen to all those in the community who are affected by changes in forestry and I am very happy to be here today to do just that,” Ms Giddings said.
“Many of the business people at today’s meeting do not work directly in the forests but they are nonetheless reliant on the industry to survive.
“It is the mechanics, and machinists, the takeaway owners and the supermarket operators who are often forgotten in the debate over the future of forestry.
“The Tasmanian Government understands the wider role that the forest industry plays in supporting these local businesses and regional communities.
“We know that these businesses are hurting right now, just like forest contractors in the bush, but it is important to recognise that this pain has not been caused by the signing of the Forestry Intergovernmental Agreement.
“The recent CRC report on changes in the forest industry showed that employment in the industry has effectively halved since the start of the Global Financial Crisis due to market forces beyond anyone’s control.
“The $276 million agreement with the Commonwealth is the response to these changes, it is not the cause.
“The agreement is aimed at restructuring the industry for the future and will deliver guaranteed wood supply to existing contracts.”
Ms Giddings said the agreement also includes $120 million for regional development projects that will support regional communities and businesses like those at today’s meeting.
“It is this $120 million investment that the Liberals want to deny regional communities by tearing up the IGA.
“The Opposition has no plan to support forest workers who are losing their jobs, they have no plan to address changing world markets and they have no plan to restructure the industry so it is viable for the future.
“Their only response has been to stick their heads in the sand and pretend that the issues confronting the industry will magically disappear.
“We know from reading the CRC report that these issues will not disappear. In fact, they will only get worse if we do nothing.
“Such an approach would only condemn the industry and the businesses that rely on it to an uncertain future.”