A Shorten Labor Government will deliver a positive plan for the future sustainable profitability and growth of the forestry and forests products industries.
This election is a choice between a strong and sustainable future for forestry and forest products, and six years of chaos and inaction from the Liberals.
There are huge opportunities to grow our fibre industries: timber, wood products, furniture, paper products manufacturing, as well as developing newer materials like carbon fibre, light-weight materials, bio-products and advanced polymers.
However, the industry will not meet its future growth potential if it cannot obtain the resources it needs.
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.
Bill Shorten and Labor believe that forestry sector policies must be developed through a whole-of-government approach and 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 Labors $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 4 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 2002 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 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 3 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 role of bio-energy and bio-mass in Australias renewable mix and work with the forestry industry to ensure bioenergy plays a responsible role in Australias future renewable energy economy. Labor will further discuss the role of bio-energy and bio-mass in Australias renewable mix in the context of climate change at the National Forestry Summit.
These policy initiatives will be supported by Labors 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 Australias 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.
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.