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Forest industry development package.



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MEDIA STATEMENT

 

Wilson Tuckey

Federal Minister for Forestry and Conservation,

WA Minister for the Environment, Cheryl Edwardes

 

AFFA99/49TUJ 4 May 1999

 

 

FOREST INDUSTRY DEVELOPMENT PACKAGE

 

 

A $41.5 million industry development program announced today as part of the Western Australian Regional Forest Agreement will provide the stimulus to create jobs through greater emphasis on downstream processing and value adding of the State’s native hardwoods.

 

Federal Forestry Minister Wilson Tuckey and WA Environment Minister Cheryl Edwardes said the RFA was a vote of confidence by the governments in the timber industry and the people of those south west communities who relied on the native forests for their livelihoods.

 

The industry development program includes the provision of grants and interest subsidies to timber mills to install value-adding equipment and new technology, to expand local manufacturing and provide assistance with marketing.

 

Funds also would be available for Business Exit Assistance for mills and assistance for timber industry workers who may he impacted by RFA outcomes.

 

Mr Tuckey said the interest subsidies could could leverage up to $40 million in loan funds to the timber industry to develop and install new technology.

 

The loans also would assist the industry in adjusting to whole bole logging compared with the traditional system by which logs were graded in the forest and the remains of the tree bole were left to rot or be burned.

 

“Whole bole logging also will help the industry meet the overall objective of ‘doing more with less’,” Mr Tuckey said.

 

“For example, Jensen Jarrah in Busselton currently uses 4,000 cubic metres of jarrah a year in manufacturing outdoor furniture settings for the domestic and export markets. The company employs 70 people.

 

“This ratio demonstrates the fact that the timber industry, with some additional assistance from Government, can not only increase its returns from a reduced level of resource, it can create sustainable employment.”

 

Mr Tuckey said the overall emphasis was to provide certainty to the timber industry.

 

“The new levels of the jarrah and karri sawlog harvest and the industry development program will provide that certainty so that timber companies can plan ahead and invest knowing that they have an assured level of supply,” he said.

 

Mrs Edwardes said the State Government has ensured the development program contained specific safeguards to protect timber mills’ investment in new technology.

 

This included a provision to convert loans into grants in the event the new Forest Management Plan due in 2004 further reduced the resource allocation to individual mills.

 

“Assistance under the development program will be available across the industry,” she said.

 

“However the priority will be on mills that are committed to providing kiln-dried timber to locally-based manufacturers.”

 

The WA Government will also contribute $3 million over the next live years to help use jarrah more efficiently through thinning of jarrah regrowth stands.

 

Media contacts: Minister Tu ckey Graham Hallett 0419 688 440 

 Minister Edwardes Nicole Trigwell 9421 7777

 

 

 

LK