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Minister opens national timber conference.



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Minister opens national timber conference

AFFA03/039M 14 March 2003

Australia's forest industries have a great future if the State governments were able to manage forests sensibly without always looking for a minor party 'second preference', a national timber conference will be told tomorrow.

Federal Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation Senator Ian Macdonald will officially open the Timber Communities Australia (TCA) annual conference in Canberra tomorrow (Saturday 15 March).

Senator Macdonald will tell the conference that our forest industry is one of the world's most sustainable and renewable, and without the negative environmental impact of alternative products like aluminium, steel and plastics.

TCA representatives from all over Australia will be in Canberra for the two-day event.

"This is a great opportunity for them to get together and discuss their industry, where it's heading, what challenges it faces and how to deal with them," Senator Macdonald.

"Timber communities are under threat in many parts of Australia, with Green groups and conservationists pressuring governments to lock more timber production areas away.

"The result is less wood, the closure of mills, the loss of jobs and the eventual closure of timber communities. Australia's forest industries are a vital part of this nation's livelihood, not just for the individuals and communities who directly depend on them, but for all Australians."

The gross turnover of forest products is around $13.6 billion a year; with exports worth $1.9 billion a year, and growing.

"Australia's forest industries face an excellent future and will attract the investment we need to transform us into a net exporter of forest products," Senator Macdonald said.

"With continued cooperation among all levels of government, forest industries and forest communities, the forest sector will continue to forge ahead, creating new opportunities to expand and produce greater wealth."

Details: 9.15am, Saturday, 15 March, Rydges Eagle Hawk Resort, Canberra.

Further inquiries:

Senator Macdonald's office: Phil Connole (02) 6277 7270 or 0417 063 605