PMs forestry announcement brings no vision or certainty to industry

At the Australian Forest Products Association Dinner last night Malcolm Turnbull has announced that the Government would develop a plan for the Forestry Industry. It was a case of déjà vu for the sector.

“Tonight I am pleased to announce I am requesting Anne Ruston to help us develop a new Government Plan that will underpin growth in the renewable timber and wood-fibre industry and work with a new government plan to give you the vision and certainty you need. We are committed to developing this industry as a growth engine for regional Australia.’’

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, AFPA Gala Dinner, Parliament House, Canberra. September 12, 2017.

The Forestry industry has suffered numerous slights/ disappointments since the Abbott-Turnbull Government was elected.

Firstly “forestry” was expunged from the portfolio title.  Then the failed White Paper process excluded the forestry sector entirely.  And now the Government has announced the development of a “plan”, for the second time.

The Forestry Industry will be hoping the second attempt will be faster than the first.

It’s last “discussion paper” took the full term of the 44th Parliament:

2013, September – Election of Abbott Government.

2014, October - Forestry Industry Advisory Council (FIAC) established.

2015, March  - with great fanfare, the launch of the Government’s forest industry issues paper:  “Meeting future market demand: Australia’s forest products and forest industry”.   Bizarrely, the then Parliamentary Secretary unveiled an issues paper at a dinner event.

2015, June – Submissions closed for the forest industry discussion paper

2016, June – The discussion paper was released.

2017, September - Turnbull Government announces it will develop a “plan” for the Forestry Industry.

The  industry is understandably concerned Australia is falling behind our international competitors. 

In its own policy proposal: “Plantations, The Missing Piece of the Puzzle”, the Australian Forest Products Association, states that “Investment in new plantations in Australia has effectively come to a standstill. In fact, the true situation is even worse. We are going backwards”.

The Coalition Government has entered its fifth year in office, and last night it announced yet another plan to have a plan. 

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