Paul Omodei

Paul Omodei

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    Beware impact of Labor's timber policies on the South-West: Minister

    17/11/2000 5:44 PM
     
    17/11/00

    The State Opposition is still refusing to release its final forest policy, but whichever mix of its previous promises it settles on will be disastrous for the South-West, Forest Products Minister Paul Omodei said today.

    On November 16, Opposition Leader Geoff Gallop said the Labor Party would not produce its policies until the election campaign.

    Mr Gallop said the Opposition wanted to end logging in old growth forests and honour existing timber contracts, and added:
    ‘We will have to come up with policies to achieve those objectives’.

    When asked when that would be, he replied that it would be ‘in the context of the election campaign’.

    Mr Omodei said the Opposition’s policies were not as well hidden as Mr Gallop would like them to be, and it was possible to assess their impact under different scenarios.

    Both involved the Opposition proceeding with all the Government’s reserves from the RFA and the additional 16 karri and karri/tingle areas from the Ferguson Report, adding Mr Gallop’s ‘Walpole Wilderness’ and ‘Preston Conservation Park’ proposals, and immediately stopping harvesting in old growth karri and jarrah areas.

    With these reserves, the first scenario involved the Opposition maintaining current levels of supply before crashing to much lower long term levels.

    The most significant impacts of this policy would be:
    • jarrah sawlog supply would drop under 200,000 cubic metres a year after 2003;
    • karri supply would drop under 35,000 c.m. after 2003;
    • major disruption of log supply would occur during 2001 because there would be insufficient lead time to prepare alternative coupes. Continuity of log supply could not be guaranteed;
    • over 2000 direct and indirect jobs would be lost throughout the South-West, with little prospect of replacement in the industry because of the impact Labor’s policy would have on new investment;
    • there would be a loss of $4.7 million a year in sawlog royalty after 2003;
    • the further reductions in timber supply will threaten the viability of the industry and particularly investment in value adding industries which are the key to the Government’s restructure of the timber industry to produce more jobs and greater value from native hardwoods; and -
    • an estimated 40,000ha of State forest currently under mining tenement, lease or licence, including nearly 3000ha under State Agreement Acts, would be included in reserves at an estimated cost of $10 billion in compensation and lost production potential.

    In the second scenario, the Opposition would immediately reduce sawlog supplies, leading to:
    • an immediate reduction in jarrah sawlog supply of more than 115,000 cubic metres a year;
    • immediate reduction in karri sawlog supply to 46,000 c.m. a year;
    • disruption to log supply during 2001 because of insufficient lead time to plan alternative coupes;
    • an immediate loss of over 2000 direct and indirect jobs;
    • an immediate loss of $10.9 million in royalties each year until 2004;
    • possible compensation payments of $65.7 to $72 million for contracts not met to the end of 2003;
    • similar effects on mining to the first scenario; and -
    • no opportunity for an orderly restructure of the industry and the development of alternative economic bases for South-West communities.

    “Both of these scenarios are based on the Labor Party’s own commitments,” Mr Omodei said.

    “The South-West - and, indeed, the whole State - cannot afford either of them or any combination of them.

    “The metropolitan media show no interest in making this information available to the public, but people in the South-West desperately need to know what they are facing if a Labor Government were elected.

    “Between 1983 and 1993 the Labor Party gave us 10 years of the most corrupt Government the State has ever seen, and it is obvious that they do not have the policies, the principles or the personnel to be returned to office.

    “Their proposed devastation of the timber industry and associated South-West communities is based primarily on a tired old slogan about preserving old growth forests.

    “It is time they woke up to the fact that the old growth forests have already been saved.

    “It is a fact that 86 per cent of old growth karri, 70 per cent of old growth jarrah and 100 per cent of old growth and two-tier karri/tingle have been permanently reserved from logging.

    “Only those with their egos, their public recognition or their political dreams wrapped up in forests persist in the pretence that they are involved in some noble cause which hasn’t already been attended to by the Government.

    “They are prepared to sacrifice thousands of families for such ignoble motives.”

    Media contact: Hugh Ryan 9213 6700