$1 million for South Wests Slopes Regional forestry hub

A Shorten Labor Government will invest $1 million for the Regional Forestry Hub in the South West Slopes of New South Wales.

The South West Slopes is described by the industry as a key forestry region, and the community was disappointed that the Morrison Government did not provide initial funding for the Hub.

Whilst the Morrison Government has now back flipped on its poor decision, it is unclear if the Hub will be allocated $1 million.

“Only a Shorten Labor Government can be trusted to deliver $1 million for the South West Slopes and recognise the vital work regional hubs will play in increasing plantation investment,” Dr Mike Kelly, Member for Eden-Monaro said.

“The expansion will provide additional timber to support downstream businesses and grow jobs in those regions.”

Labor will deliver a positive plan for the future sustainable profitability and growth of the forestry and forests products industries.

We will ensure workers in the forestry industry will be recognised for their skilled work and will benefit from the growth of the industry.

Labor strongly believes that workers should receive a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work including through genuine good faith bargaining undertaken by employers and unions including in major wood processors in the region.

“You can’t have a strong national economy without a strong regional economy and you can’t have a strong regional economy without a strong timber industry,” Joel Fitzgibbon, Shadow Minister for Fisheries and Forestry said.

Labor has worked closely with the forestry sector, unions and other relevant stakeholders to understand the key priorities needed to achieve the planting of an additional 400,000 hectares of new plantations. 

These new plantations will create more jobs and inject an additional $5 billion into the national economy.  

Labor believes forestry sector policies must be developed through a whole-of-government approach.

Labor will work closely with all levels of governments to ensure that the sector reaches its full potential to the benefit of industry, its workers and the wider Australian community, particularly those living in the regions. 

That is why Labor’s $20 million investment into the forestry and forest products industry will: 

  • Deliver a National Forestry Summit and a National Forestry Strategic Plan, to support the growth of a more sustainable and prosperous forestry industry. 
  • Prioritise the removal of the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) water rule, a policy vital for the sustainability of the forestry industry.  
  • Support growth in forest industries in regional Australia by investing $13 million over four years for 13 regional forestry hubs including the identified four trial sites. 
  • Reform the Forest Industry Advisory Council by broadening its membership to include broader industry and worker representation. Consistent with the Regional Forest Agreements Act the council will act as a forum where the Minister and stakeholders in the forest and wood products industry consult together and exchange advice and information. 
  • Restore proper commonwealth and state relationships by re-establishing the Council of Australian Government’s (COAG) process for the Standing Council on Primary Industries. Labor will continue to support the side meetings of the Forestry Ministers at the federal and state levels
  • Provide funding for forestry and forest products industry worker safety initiatives.
  • Provide up to $4 million over three years to address identified skill shortages in the forest and forest products industry.
  • Continued support for Regional Forest Agreements, that are based on the best available science as it applies to the proper consideration of social, economic and environmental factors. 
  • Expand export opportunities by working with industry to improve trading opportunities for the wood and paper products sectors.
  • Recognise the potential role of bio-energy and bio-mass in Australia’s renewable mix and through the National Forestry Summit and the Bioenergy strategy, work with the forestry industry and other stakeholders to ensure bioenergy plays a responsible and sustainable role in Australia’s future renewable energy economy. 

These policy initiatives will be supported by Labor’s announced policies in the following areas: 

  • Lifting research and development investment to 3 per cent of GDP per annum by 2030, to ensure manufacturing has the best scientific and research expertise available. 
  • Supporting firms to innovate and grow through our $1 billion Advanced Manufacturing Future Fund (AMFF). 
  • Encouraging business to invest in this country through the Australian Investment Guarantee (AIG), with local businesses benefiting from a new accelerated depreciation scheme for new capital assets. 
  • Implementing a Local Projects, Local Jobs plan, that will see more government procurement and investment in major projects spent on local businesses and local jobs. 
  • Ending the Liberals and Nationals’ war on science and returning science to the centre of government by resetting the relationship between government and Australia’s scientists and researchers. 
  • Investing $1 billion to boost TAFE, apprenticeships and skills including, scrapping upfront fees for 100,000 TAFE students who choose to learn the skills that Australia needs to become a modern advanced manufacturing economy. 
  • Ensure Australian Standards are applied when local manufactured plywood and engineered wood products are being considered in construction projects. 
  • A $25 million food and fibre industry strategy to drive local jobs and innovation, as well as attract investment in manufacturing, particularly in rural and regional areas.

Only Labor understands that the forestry industry does not have a moment to lose after enduring almost six years of no action from the dysfunctional and chaotic Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government.

End the chaos. Vote for change. Vote for Labor.

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