The sandalwood industry is important to the State, and the Government is determined to ensure that its operations and its reputation are maintained at a high level.
Recent allegations about past events and individuals have been referred to the appropriate investigative authorities and they should be allowed to proceed with their inquiries.
Politically motivated calls for a judicial inquiry are premature and ignore the changes that have occurred in the industry since this Government was elected.
We called for expressions of interest and then conducted an open tender process before appointing Wescorp as the agent for the processing and marketing of the State’s sandalwood.
This broke the long association with the Australian Sandalwood Company which has been referred to in recent allegations.
Wescorp is a very experienced trading house with a solid history of trading commodities in Asia and other markets.
This Government also conducted an open tender process for harvesting contracts and in the process enabled Aboriginal communities and pastoralists to become involved in harvesting sandalwood.
All exports are subject to Federal export approvals.
An important development in value-adding has been the State’s entry into the production of oils for cosmetic and pharmaceutical uses, an operation which employs about 40 people at Albany, one of our major regional centres.
Some farmers are now planting sandalwood for its environmental benefits in salt-affected areas and as a long term investment for future harvesting.
The industry is beginning to enter a new phase with potentially significant benefits in diversification and environmental protection in regional areas.
The Government will ensure that it continues to build on this solid foundation to provide a sustainable and growing industry with a long term future.
Media contact: Hugh Ryan 9213 6700