Labor’s forest policy is an irrational and unbalanced attack on the timber industry which will cause immediate and long-term hardship in the South-West, Forest Products Minister Paul Omodei said today.
“It would cause an immediate loss of more than 2000 direct and indirect jobs and destroy the future of the timber industry,” Mr Omodei said.
“The ALP simply cannot take so much forest out of production and honour existing contracts on a sustainable basis.
“The bottom line of their plan is that they will end up grossly overcutting young regrowth forests - and still log old-growth.
“I suspect that city people who are being wooed by these sweeping promises will, if they look closely, find that the ALP returns to old growth logging.
“It’s a con and the reality means that Labor will still log old growth to meet the contractual commitments for the next three years.
“Whichever way they implement it, the effects of Labor’s plan on Manjimup, Pemberton, Nannup and Greenbushes would be disastrous, and the effects on the remainder of the South-West, especially Bunbury, would be severe.
“The State would lose about $12 million in royalties each year to 2004 and could possibly have to pay compensation of between $65 and $72 million for contracts not honoured to the end of 2003.
“There would be no time or resources for an orderly restructure of the industry and the development of alternative economic bases for South-West communities.
“John Curtin, who founded the Timber Workers Union in Victoria and was its first national president, would turn in his grave at the sight of a Labor Party belting timber workers over the head with green fantasies.
“The promise of thousands of new jobs is straight out of the WA Forest Alliance’s pipedream - the promise of people who want all power but no responsibility for investment, management or outcomes.
“And perhaps the saddest thing of all is that the people of Western Australia are not being offered any worthwhile conservation values in return for devastated communities because this Government has already reserved 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 forest.
“It has also reserved at least one example of every type of forest ecosystem and it manages production forests on a sustainable basis without any loss of environmental values.
“The Government has been totally open and has taken the hard decisions to ensure that we have a responsible, balanced approach to forest management.
“The Labor Party on the other hand is trying to promise everything to everybody and it simply cannot deliver its promise to stop old growth logging and meet all existing contracts.”
Media contact: Hugh Ryan 9213 6700