Image for Special timbers sector endangered by Tas Forestry IGA. Petition

Stakeholders of Tasmania’s valuable special timbers sector who are unhappy with the industry-destroying Tasmanian forestry Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA)  have the backing of the Federal Coalition.

Coalition Forestry spokesman Senator Richard Colbeck said concerns raised by furniture designer and craftsman George Harris and wooden boat builder Andrew Denman on ABC Tasmania’s Country Hour program yesterday were most legitimate and warranted immediate attention.

“I raised concern about special timbers resource restriction back in August and it is alarming to now hear stakeholders talk about the demise of this high value sector.

“Tasmania’s special timber sector employs about 2000 people and makes a multi-million dollar contribution to this state’s economy,” Senator Colbeck said.

“A 2009 report estimated processing and sale of Tasmania’s special timbers generate around $70 million annually. Our wooden boat building industry estimates it alone is worth alone at $50 million. Neither of these figures account for the valuable flow-on dollars also generated.

“The special timbers sector is the type of value-adding, downstream processing that the environment groups (ENGOs) claim to support but their actions and demands would kill it off” Senator Colbeck said.

“The ENGOs bid to lock up 572,000 hectares of so-called high conservation forest would see an 80 per cent reduction in the amount of special timbers available.

“Even locking up 430,000 hectares will see a 54 per cent reduction in available special timber resource.

“The sector is concerned that without an annual supply of least 12,500 cubic metres – a volume previously agreed -  harvest and processing of special timbers will be economically unviable. Tasmania’s iconic furniture, wood crafts and wooden boat businesses will be no more.

“The special timbers sector has become collateral damage in this failed negotiation process. It is doubly unfair because the materials the sector needs cannot be substituted by anything else and no one in this sector has contracts that are the basis for compensation

“Even the Governments own arts body, Arts Tasmania, has confirmed it has concerns about the future of the wood crafts sector. (correspondence attached)

“There is no doubt the special timbers sector understands and appreciates the quality of the resource it uses.

“The sector has embraced a strategy document, Forestry Tasmania’s Special Timbers Strategy, that commits to sensible use of resources on very long-term rotations to ensure future sustainability.

“It should also be remembered that more than 90 per cent of species like Celery Top Pine and King Billy Pine are already in reserves.

“Once again, the Coalitions calls on the State and Federal Governments to stand up to their Greens puppet masters and tear up the IGA before irreparable damage is done to Tasmania’s forest industries,” Senator Colbeck said.

Download,
George Harris letter to Arts Tasmania:
Urgent_matter_Board_Arts_Tasmania.doc
Response to George:
Response_to_George_Harris_re_IGA_Oct_2011.pdf

Listen to George:
http://mpegmedia.abc.net.au/rural/tas/countryhour/201111/r856281_8155788.mp3

Pic: of Richard Colbeck

• Petition to highlight value of Australia’s forest industries

Coalition Forestry spokesman Senator Richard Colbeck has launched a petition to highlight the valuable contribution made by Australia’s forestry industries.

The online petition will be tabled in the Senate next year.

“There has never been a more important time for us to stand up and demonstrate support for Australia’s forestry industries,” Senator Colbeck said.

“A catalyst for this petition has been the ongoing saga in Tasmania, where campaigns of misinformation and industrial vandalism continue to unfairly slander a viable and respectable industry.

“I am increasingly concerned that the good stories about forestry are drowned out by enviro-warrior campaigns based on half-truths and fiction.

“The latest goal of these groups appears to be shutting down all native forest activity, which is both unnecessary and also contrary to achieving some of the ideals they profess to desire.

“I believe we need to keep highlighting the many positive contributions that are made by sensible management of these important resources.

“I am talking about the scientifically proven benefits brought on by active native forestry management – like greater carbon absorption and bushfire mitigation.

“I’m talking about the benefits of having totally renewable resources for construction, manufacturing and energy generation.

“And I am talking about the economic benefit that forest industries bring to hundreds of Australian communities through employment, direct wealth generation and indirect flow on benefits.

“There is a lot of frustration among forest communities that they are not being heard and that green groups are dominating the corridors of power.

“I will table this petition in the New Year to ensure our views are brought to the attention of the Labor-Green Federal Government,” Senator Colbeck said.

The petition can be found at:
http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/supporting_australian_forest_industries/