Tasmania’s forest industry believes the Government should offer a commercial loan to parties interested in building a new woodchip facility in the state’s south.
The Premier, Lara Giddings, says she would financially back an industry group to build a new mill in the south, if the Triabunna mill does not re-open.
The Forest Industry Association’s Terry Edwards says there are several groups interested in developing a long-term operation.
But he says the industry is not looking for a handout and expecting the Government to fund the operation would be inappropriate.
“What we might however do is look for a commercial loan from the State Government agency responsible for these sorts of things to get this thing up and running and, once that’s done, then there would, the commerciality would see that being repaid over time.”
Mr Edwards believes any move to establish a woodchip export pile on the Hobart waterfront would be unacceptable to most Tasmanians and he doubts it would happen.
“My indications from all of the proponents I have spoken to date is a much more sophisticated operation than just having a pile of woodchips on open display on the Hobart waterfront.”
“I think that would not be a scenario acceptable to the bulk of Tasmanians, and certainly not to Hobartians.”
A forest industry analyst says a woodchip export facility would fit in with Hobart’s waterfront.
Robert Eastment says cities like Geelong, Newcastle and Brisbane have woodchip operations and a woodchip loader like that in Burnie, would not be out of place in Hobart.
• WHY IS TASPORTS BLOCKING TRIABUNNA RE-START?
Tim Morris MP
Greens Infrastructure spokesperson
The Tasmanian Greens today said that if State Labor were serious about the need for the Triabunna mill to resume operations, then they would be requiring TasPorts to remove all unnecessary obstacles to resolving the current negotiations.
Greens Infrastructure spokesperson Tim Morris MP said that the mill owners have publicly guaranteed to re-start the mill in accordance with the Forests Statement of Principles and the Inter-Governmental Agreement, and yet it appears Tasports is continuing to throw up road blocks.
“It’s absurd that the Triabunna mill is being prevented from reopening due to spurious Tasports demands, at the same time as Labor is considering using taxpayer funds to build a new woodchip facility,” Mr Morris said.
“The Triabunna mill’s owners have publicly committed to operating in accordance with the IGA, and Labor is letting TasPorts get away with wrecking that negotiation process.”
“Given that the previous mill operator was not required to pay this charge, TasPorts’ actions look a lot like a shakedown, which is the last thing Tasmania needs at a time when the forestry industry is trying to find a sustainable future.”
“I would be interested to know if the reason that Tasports has reportedly requested a $2.5 million up-front payment is that they been previously burned by wood exporters not paying their bills on time.”
“Here we have yet another example of an unaccountable government business enterprise being allowed to throw up roadblocks to these vital reforms to the forestry industry in Tasmania.”
Mr Morris also dismissed as ludicrous industry calls for the State to provide a commercial loan to any industry consortium in order to build new woodchip facilities, and called for Labor to rule this out.
“Infrastructure Minister David O’Byrne must guarantee that no more taxpayers’ money will be spent on loss-making woodchip operations, which the public will not tolerate, let alone at a time when cuts are being made to health.”
“A woodchip export facility on Hobart’s waterfront is crazy, and must be ruled out immediately. Instead, get TasPorts focused on negotiating workable outcomes to facilitate Triabunna reopening, as its current owners have publicly stated they intend to do.”