Labor pledges AU$15 million for SA forestry

Friday 18 Mar 2022

Key points:

• Labor has promised a AU$15 million funding package to SA's forestry industry if it wins the upcoming state election
• The pledge includes building a research and development centre in Mount Gambier, upgrading fire towers and creating an industry master plan
• The industry has welcomed the package, but wants to be able to plant more trees.

The pledge includes AU$15 million over 10 years for a 'Centre for Excellence' for timber research and development in Mount Gambier, in the state's south east. There would also be AU$2 million over three years to develop a Manufacturing and Infrastructure Masterplan, AU$2 million to upgrade fire towers in the region's forests, and an additional AU$5 million for the Mount Gambier TAFE.

The package also includes expanding the role of the Forest Industries Advisory Council and undertaking a "comprehensive" and "independent" review of the region's Water Allocation Plan. Labor has promised to invest in courses where there are identified trade shortages, and develop the Trees on Farms initiative to promote the environmental and economic benefits of on-farm plantations.

The South Australian Forest Products Association has welcomed the funding pledge. "Forestry is receiving attention at a political level that it hasn't received for a very long time" said Chief executive Nathan Paine. But Mr Paine said what the industry really wanted was a commitment for more trees in the ground.

"Both parties have given us very strong commitment towards investigating and looking at what the options are of getting trees in the ground," he said. "We would have obviously loved to have that in our hands right now."

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Greater Green Triangle CFMEU Manufacturing Secretary Brad Coates said more help for the timber industry though is needed to avoid declining forestry numbers. The Timber Workers Union has said water licensing and skills shortages will need to be resolved to see any real growth in the timber industry.

CFMEU Manufacturing secretary for the Greater Green Triangle District, Brad Coates said that any funding for forestry without water provisions is “just spin.”

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Source: ABC, Border Watch

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