Timber announcement a fix, says Gympie MP
GYMPIE MP Tony Perrett said yesterday the State Government had shown it was “all talk and no action”, as the Timber Industry Plan remained in limbo.
Mr Perrett said Labor said one thing in the regions but acted differently in Brisbane.
“Nearly a year ago Annastacia Palaszczuk went to Maryborough to try to quell her disaffected regional backbench by announcing a timber plan, but it’s all spin and no action,” Mr Perrett said.
“The Palaszczuk Labor Government hasn’t even established the timber advisory group that was supposed to be responsible for overseeing and working with the industry about a sustainable economic future.
“Last year’s fanfare announcement was for a two-year delay from 2024 to the Regional Forest Agreement which will close access to timber resources on State owned land.
“I asked the Agriculture Minister a parliamentary Question on Notice when the timber advisory panel responsible for overseeing the timber action plan announced in
November 2019 will first meet.”
Agricultural Minister Mark Furner refused to answer several questions from The Courier-Mail, saying the panel’s membership was expected to be finalised soon.
Asked whether the study, which will identify sustainable future options for timber supply, was on track to be completed next year, the Minister said it was scheduled to be completed in 2021.
“DAF has already undertaken a range of work to guide the resource assessment component of the study,” he said.
Mr Perrett said:
“Almost a year later and there is still no advisory panel which was a core part of the announcement.
“It shows that the Green Labor alliance is still dictating the agenda.
“The announcement was clearly a political fix until after the election, not an economic fix for our forest and timber workers.
“The looming closure of access to timber resources is a political problem which the Government wants to go away.
“Putting on a band aid will do nothing to provide certainty or security for timber workers or the industry.
“Forestry and the timber industry have been an integral part of the Gympie region’s economic and employment base for more than 100 years.
“Gympie is tin the top five local government areas with the highest percentage of employment in the forest and timber industries.
“In 2019 there were 803 or 4.6% of Gympie’s total employment in the sector and State Government statistical data said that the Araucaria, hardwood, and southern pine plantations have a direct value of $697 million.
“In 1999 former Labor Premier Beattie promised that private farm forestry would take up the slack from closure of access to timber resources.
“Those assurances to transition the industry and save local jobs completely failed.
“Instead the financially incompetent Bligh Labor Government sold our forest plantations in an asset fire sale in 2010.
“It sold them for $600 million which was estimated to be less than half their value ($1.3 billion) to the North American company Hancock Timber Resources Group with 99-year contractual obligations.
“A well-managed forest is a sustainable and renewable resource,” he said.