Three new grants for WA timber industry announced
Friday 19 Aug 2022Forestry Minister Dave Kelly this week announced three new grant programs to support economic development and job creation in South-West Australian communities, ahead of the end of native forest logging in 2024.
The Industry and Community Development Programs are the third and final pillar of the Native Forestry Transition plan, funded by an additional AU$30 million announced in the 2022-23 State Budget. The third pillar in the AU$80 million Native Forestry Transition plan will help build strong, diverse regional economies and support the creation of local jobs.
The AU$15 million Small Business Development and Diversification program will provide grants of up to AU$400,000 to small businesses that have been impacted by the end of native forest logging to diversify or expand their business into new business streams. This funding is designed to assist secondary businesses that have a reliance on the native timber industry but do not have a direct contract with the Forest Products Commission.
New industry expansion and innovation in the region will be supported through a AU$10 million New Industry Development and Attraction program. The industry-led program will provide grants of up to AU$2 million, with matched funding, to accelerate new and existing business development, attract new industries and strengthen regional economies with diverse employment opportunities.
Funding of up to AU$100,000 will also be made available through the AU$5 million Community Development Small Grants program for projects that aim to stimulate regional economies and enhance the liveability of communities.
Applications for the Industry and Community Development Programs will commence opening from September 2022. The programs were developed in consultation with the Native Forestry Transition Group, local government authorities, the Forest Industries Federation of Western Australia, the Australian Workers' Union, and Regional Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
NOTE: Since the release of the media statement by Forestry Minister Dave Kelly earlier in the week, the Forest Industries Federation of WA (FIFWA) has rejected comments made that the third funding package of the Native Forestry Transition plan had been developed in consultation with FIFWA. FIFWA Chief Executive Officer Adele Farina said the media release by Minister Kelly, announcing the third funding package came as a rude shock and was unacceptable. Ms Farina said as the package was yet to be finalised, its public announcement was premature and showed no regard for due process.
“FIFWA categorically refutes the Minister’s claim that the package has been prepared in consultation with the community representatives on the Native Forestry Transition Group,” Ms Farina said. “The package announced by Minister Kelly has been developed by the government and an outline of the package was presented to members of the Community and Industry Development Sub-group of the Native Forestry Transition Group for the first time on Monday afternoon. It has not yet been presented to the Native Forestry Transition Group.”
“At the meeting on Monday afternoon, members of the sub-group expressed serious concerns with the proposed package which fails to deliver the government’s promised ‘Just Transition’, leaving many impacted by the government’s decision to cease native forestry by 2024 without any funding assistance to make the transition forced on them by the government,” Ms Farina said.
“With questions raised by members at the meeting left unanswered, it will be difficult enough to provide meaningful feedback. However, the Minister’s action announcing the package within 24 hours of having agreed to give members two weeks to provide feedback and less than a few hours after members received the actual document outlining the package, shows any feedback provided by members will, yet again, fall on deaf ears”.
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