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Carr's 'go it alone' forest policy dooms NSW timber industry.

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24 February 1999




The Federal Minister for Forestry and Conservation, Wilson Tuckey commenting on the release of the NSW Labor Government’s forest po licy today said the states timber industry would face decimation under the policy commitments spelt out today by the NSW Minister for Forestry, Kim Yeadon.


The only outcome the Carr Government can deliver for forestry based on this policy announcement today is more job losses from regional NSW towns in State electorates like Clarence based on Grafton and Monaro covering the SE forests.


Today Labor Ministers Yeadon and Woods have engaged in a ‘show signing’ of agreements for wood supply.


Labor’s policy is not based on sustainable yield from the NSW forests and the industry will have to shrink when the volumes promised cannot be achieved. The NSW Auditor General has agreed to investigate the potential compensation exposure arising from the legally binding 20 year contracts between the NSW Government and the industry.


The Carr Government continues to make the outrageous claim that its ‘go it alone’ forest policy, which includes the outright opposition by NSW to the negotiation of a Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) with the Commonwealth, can deliver security for the NSW timber industry.


I want to spell out three key reasons why the claim that the NSW Labor Government is able to deliver security for the timber industry is a cruel hoax.


• Unlike all other relev ant States, NSW has refused to cooperate with the Commonwealth in finalising an RFA. There is no Regional Forest Agreement in NSW. Without a signed joint NSW/Commonwealth RFA based on the principles of the National Forest Policy Statement exports of woodchips from NSW will fall over. Unless there is an agreed RFA with NSW by the end of December this year, under policy initiated by Paul Keating the export of woodchips from NSW will cease. The timber industry in other states are already eyeing off NSW domestic and export markets in the event that a RFA in NSW is not concluded by the end of this year.


• The NSW timber industry is not assured of timber supply for 20 years as claimed by Minister Yeadon. There are grave doubts that the sustainable yields availabl e from the unreserved forest areas of NSW can deliver the wood volumes promised by NSW Labor.


• The Carr Government continues to ignore international accreditation processes. This means NSW won’t be able to secure international markets for timber products . The NSW Government can have no credibility as sustainable managers of forests in international forums without a signed RFA with the Commonwealth.


The claim by the NSW Minister for Regional Development, Harry Woods to have spent $13 million in funding su pport from government is dishonest. Mr Woods knows that this money came from the Commonwealth FISAP (Forest Industry Support and Adjustment Package) and not from the NSW Government as implied in his press statement. The remaining $40 million FISAP money allocated to NSW remains suspended pending NSW restoring its commitment to the RFA process.


I remain confident that regional people in NSW will reject the Carr forest policy. I remind voters that the NSW Coalition is committed to negotiating an RFA to overcome the disastrous prospects that await timber towns and communities under another 4 years of a Labor Government.




Contact: Graeme Hallett (0419 688 440)