The Labor Party’s forest policy would jeopardise the new high value timber industries attracted to the South-West by the State Government, Forest Products Minister Paul Omodei said.
“With their extreme and irrational policy, the Labor Party would destroy the balanced restructure of the timber industry the Government is already achieving,” Mr Omodei said.
The practicalities of timber harvesting would mean that contractors would have to stop work almost immediately because of the ban on old growth timber.
Established timber mills would be forced to close by the middle of the year because of a lack of wood.
New industries attracted by the Government to the South-West such as the re-opened Greenbushes mill and an associated furniture manufacturer which had created more than 100 jobs, the planned re-organisation of the Nannup mill and high value-adding furniture processing, and the 65 new jobs to be created at Manjimup by Inglewood Forest Products would all be jeopardised.
“The Labor Party’s ban on harvesting old growth forests would mean that the existing logging plan would have to be scrapped,” Mr Omodei said.
“A new plan would have to be created, new flora, fauna and cultural heritage assessments made, a new public consultation process entered into, and new coupe preparation and road-building operations begun.
“You can’t just point your finger at a map and say ‘go and harvest over there’.
“Timber harvesting is a carefully planned operation which considers all environmental and ecological factors.
“The Labor Party would basically stop harvesting during February, March and April, which are the months when logs are stockpiled for winter use because winter harvesting is much less environmentally benign.
“The result is that contracts could not be met, the mills will have to close by mid-winter and value-adding processors will be denied their timber supplies.
“The disaster would be on-going because instead of harvesting re-growth forests on a carefully planned rotation, the Labor Party would have to pillage them and leave the State desperately short of timber within a few years.
“The fact is that the Labor Party will be forced back into harvesting old growth forests because of its legal obligation to fulfil contracts.
“Unfortunately, before it acknowledges this reality it will have done immense harm to the emerging high-value timber industry the Government and the timber industry are currently combining to develop.
“They are undoing the balance we have achieved for the entirely political motivation of wooing extreme green votes in the city.
“Their policy does not even have the benefit of real environmental value because the 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, in addition to having a world class CAR reserve system.
“The Labor Party’s most admired leader, John Curtin, who established the timber workers union in Victoria and was its first national president, must be turning in his grave as he watches such an unprincipled approach to forest conservation and the timber industry."
Media contact: Hugh Ryan 9213 6700