Australia’s Forestry Industry will be dismayed and bitterly disappointed that Malcolm Turnbull’s grand announcement on 12 September 2017 that his Government would develop a Forestry Plan, is expected to be delivered sometime in “the second half of 2018”. It is insulting to the forestry industry that the delivery timeline is a six month window.
Responses from the Questions in Writing put in on 16 October 2017 revealed that;
- The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources will develop the plan
- The plan will be funded from within existing departmental resources
- The plan is due sometime in the second half of 2018
- The forestry industry and state and territory agencies will have input into the plan
- There will be no discussion paper prior to the completion of the plan, because it is not necessary
- The plan will cover all parts of the forestry industry from growing of both native forests and plantations through to processing of forest products
- The implementation, including timing and responsibilities, will be settled during the plan’s development
The lack of any definitive answers will be of great concern to the forestry industry which 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. Then the Turnbull Government has announced the development of a “plan”, for the second time.
Its 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.
It’s past time the Turnbull Government took the forestry industry seriously and stopped the empty rhetoric and dragging out any real action from election to election.