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Tuesday, 10 December 2002
Page: 7661


Senator O'Brien asked the Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation, upon notice, on 15 October 2002:

(1) Since 1999, what programs have been conducted by, or sponsored by, Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Australia in order to provide incentives to Australian industry to value-add (by way of processing) to lower quality saw logs.

(2) Who conducted each program.

(3) When did each program start.

(4) When did each program finish.

(5) Of those programs not yet finished, when are they expected to be completed.

(6) How much has the Commonwealth expended on each program.

(7) What new types of commodity manufacturing have occurred as a directly result of these programs.

(8) How many full-time jobs have been created as a result of the manufacturing of new commodities directly attributable to these programs.

(9) For each financial year since 1999, what has been the export value of manufactured commodities as a direct result of these programs.

(10) For each of the next 5 financial years, what is the annual projected export value of each of these new types of commodity manufacturing that have developed as a directly attributable result of these programs.


Senator Ian Macdonald (Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation) —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(1) No Commonwealth programmes conducted by, or sponsored by, Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Australia have as a specific objective the provision of incentives to Australian industry to value-add to lower quality saw logs.

However, the Industry Development Assistance element of the joint Commonwealth/State Forest Industry Structural Adjustment Programs (FISAP) in New South Wales and Victoria provides assistance for value-adding and further processing of saw logs from native forests, including lower quality logs.

Two projects which have been approved for funding under the NSW FISAP involve processing small logs to produce weatherboards, pallets, fencing, timber panels and furniture.

Two projects which have been approved for funding under the Victorian FISAP involve processing small logs to produce pallets and to increase the recovery of sawn timber from lower grade logs.

The objective of the Commonwealth's Forest Industry Development Assistance Program for South East Queensland (FIDAQ) is to assist the continuing development of a responsible, sustainable, efficient and internationally competitive native forest timber industry in south-east Queensland.

The FIDAQ guidelines do not specifically refer to value-adding of lower quality sawlogs. However, three projects which have been approved for FIDAQ funding will increase sawn timber recovery from and add value to lower quality logs. Two of the projects involve upgrading production facilities to increase the recovery of sawn timber from lower grade logs, and one project involves the installation of a timber treatment plant and other equipment.

(2) The NSW FISAP is jointly administered by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Australia (AFFA) and the NSW Forestry Structural Adjustment Unit.

The Victorian FISAP is jointly administered by AFFA and the Victorian Department of Natural Resources and Environment.

FIDAQ is administered by AFFA.

(3) The NSW FISAP started in December 1996.

The Victorian FISAP started in June 1999.

FIDAQ started in October 2000.

(4) All three programmes are still operating although it is unlikely that there will be any further funding rounds.

(5) All programmes are currently scheduled to finish on 30 June 2003.

(6) Commonwealth expenditure on Industry Development Assistance is as follows:

NSW FISAP: $6.6 million spent and approximately $2.8 million committed but not yet spent.

Victorian FISAP: $5.2 million spent and approximately $4.5 million committed but not yet spent.

FIDAQ: $1.5 million spent, and approximately $3 million committed but not yet spent.

The figures quoted above refer only to the Industry Development Assistance element of FISAP, and do not include expenditure on Business Exit Assistance, Worker Assistance, Rescheduling Assistance or Restructuring Assistance.

(7) On the assumption that the question refers to the use of low quality sawlogs to produce new products not previously produced in Australia, or not previously produced at the sawmill receiving FISAP or FIDAQ assistance, neither programme has provided any such grants. However, the programmes have assisted many sawmills in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland to increase the recovery of sawn timber and to increase the percentage of timber which is dried, dressed and moulded for decorative and other high-value uses. As mentioned in response to part 1 of this question, seven of the projects funded by FISAP involve the use of lower grade logs.

(8) As mentioned above, no projects funded by FISAP or FIDAQ have involved manufacturing of new commodities.

(9) The Commonwealth does not have access to details of the value of exports by individual firms as such information is commercially confidential.

(10) The Commonwealth does not have access to details of the estimated value of future exports by individual firms as such information is commercially confidential.