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Thursday, 15 December 1983
Page: 3942

Question No. 509


Senator Jack Evans asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice, on 15 November 1983:

(1) Does the Western Australian Chip and Pulp Co. Pty Ltd have approval to export 900,000 tonnes of woodchips from Western Australia per year; if so, when was the export quota increased from 750,000 to 900,000 tonnes.

(2) Was an environmental impact statement prepared for the additional 150,000 tonnes; if not: (a) why was one not prepared; and (b) will the Minister for Primary Industry direct the preparation of an environmental impact statement before the company is permitted to export any amount beyond the initial 750,000 tonnes.

(3) Will the Minister table a copy if an environmental impact statement was prepared.

(4) What species of woodchips may be exported as part of the additional quantity and from where are they to be derived.

(5) For what duration was approval granted to export the additional quantity.

(6) Were any conditions imposed in relation to the approval granted to export the additional quantity; if so, what are the conditions.

(7) What were the conditions under which approval was granted to export the initial 750,000 tonnes.

(8) What quantity of woodchips has the company exported each year since it began operations.

(9) What percentage of the quantity exported each year was (a) karri, and (b) marri.

(10) Has an environmental review and management program ever been prepared for the project; if not, will the Minister direct that one be prepared; and if so, will the Minister table a copy.


Senator Walsh —The Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) Yes; the export quota was increased from 750,000 tonnes to 900,000 tonnes on 1 January 1980.

(2), (3) and (4) An environmental impact statement was not prepared, on the advice of the relevant Commonwealth and State authorities. I am advised that an environmental impact statement was not considered necessary by either the then Commonwealth Department of Science and the Environment or the Western Australia Department of Conservation and Environment because the additional 150,000 tonnes of woodchips was required to be derived entirely from jarrah sawmill residues, that is, waste that would have otherwise been destroyed.

(5) The approval extends from 1 January 1980 to 31 December 1990, the termination date of the primary licence.

(6) The following conditions are part of the company's approval to export the additional quantity.

(a) The woodchips are to be derived solely from jarrah sawmill residues defined as wastes associated with genuine sawn timber production consisting of slabs, offcuts, dockings, and boxed hearts rejected in the normal sawmilling operation.

(b) In the event of the volume of sawmill wastes available to the company yielding less than 150,000 tonnes of chips in any one year the shortfall shall not be made up by operations of a different nature without the prior approval of the Minister.

(c) The approval is not to be construed as conferring on the company in any way the exclusive right to any material from which woodchips may be derived.

(d) The approval is subject to review in the event that the requirements of existing or future wood using industries can be satisfied only by access to material currently exported.

(e) If required, summary reports showing amounts and origin of woodchips, are to be provided to the Department of Primary Industry on request.

(f) Feasibility studies on the further processing of the material in Australia are to be undertaken at agreed intervals and submitted to the Commonwealth.

(7) The company was granted approval to export woodchips in accordance with the Western Australian Woodchipping Industry Agreement Act 1969-1973 and in terms of the agreement signed between Western Australian Chip and Pulp Co. Pty Ltd and its overseas buyer. The company was also required to observe any environmental requirements arising out of the work of the inter-departmental working party on the economic and environmental implications of the woodchipping industry which it would be reasonable to require the company to take into account. No such requirement arose.

(8) It is not Government policy to reveal information which has been provided by Australian manufacturers on the basis of commercial confidentiality. However, I understand relevant statistics are published in the annual report of the authorities controlling the port of Bunbury.

(9) The proportion of karri and marri logs accepted for chipping by Western Australian Chip and Pulp Co. Pty Ltd from State forests since financial year 1976-77 is as follows:

karri marri 1976-77 34 per cent 66 per cent 1977-78 24 per cent 76 per cent 1978-79 22 per cent 78 per cent 1979-80 22 per cent 78 per cent 1980-81 24 per cent 76 per cent 1981-82 30 per cent 70 per cent

The actual proportion of karri and marri in woodchip exports would have been affected by the admixture of chips produced from sawmill residues and the quantities of logs derived from private property.

(10) This project has been considered in the past by the Commonwealth and Western Australian Environmental Authorities and the Western Australian Department of Forestry, all of which have agreed that an environmental review and management program was not necessary for either the original 750,000 tonnes or the additional 150,000 tonnes. The company's present approvals are not subject to review until 1990 which will be the next opportunity for the Commonwealth to consider its position in respect of environmental reviews under the Environment Protection (Impact of Proposals) Act 1974.