Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government
The Hon. Tony Burke MP
Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
Senator the Hon. Joe Ludwig
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
The Hon. Greg Combet AM MP
Minister for Industry and Innovation
The Hon. Sid Sidebottom
Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
Member for Braddon
Statement on announcement by Ta Ann Tasmania
Joint media release
13 February 2012
Irresponsible campaigns against Tasmania’s overseas timber market are sabotaging local jobs and can only result in worse environmental outcomes.
Ta Ann Tasmania today announced that its sales to Japan had fallen by 50 per cent as a result of persistent protest activities by environmental groups – particularly Markets for Change.
As a result, Ta Ann Tasmania has announced that it has been forced to shed a shift (up to a total of 40 jobs) from its Huon and Smithton mills. This will also mean a temporary reduction of about a third in the volume of wood it sources from Forestry Tasmania.
The Australian and Tasmanian governments are implementing an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) in response to rapid change and major problems in the industry, which had shed thousands of jobs in recent years as a result of changes in the market for forest timber.
The IGA responded to calls from the forestry industry, unions and environment groups that have worked together to develop a constructive way forward in response to this downturn .
This agreement is about ensuring the forestry industry can continue on a sustainable footing and guarantees ongoing supply for existing businesses that are critical to supporting jobs and regional communities in Tasmania.
The protests by forest activists against the market fly in the face of the responsible, community-driven approach taken by both governments and the organisations involved in the agreement.
That agreement includes a guarantee that all existing wood supply contracts (including Ta Ann Tasmania’s contracts) will continue to be honoured, while also seeking to achieve additional protection of high conservation value forest areas that are compatible with wood supply guarantees.
Independent verification is underway to assess the wood supply and conservation values in the forest areas affected, timber supply requirements for industry might be combined with protection of iconic forest areas. This independent process, led by experts, was agreed by groups involved in the agreement.
Forest activists must respect the independent process underway to assess areas of nominated high conservation value and its compatibility with wood supply. The conservation opportunities in Tasmania only exist because of co-operation that has occurred so far. Using misinformation to attack existing industry players is not acceptable.
The Government rejects any accusations that Ta Ann Tasmania has been harvesting or using timber in a way that contravenes the Intergovernmental Agreement.
Implementation of the agreement requires co-operation between the parties. Ta Ann has played a positive role and in the process to facilitate effective implementation of the agreement and wants the agreement to succeed.
In the 2010 Statement of Principles, these groups committed to work together “To resolve conflict over forests in Tasmania, protect native forests, and develop a strong sustainable timber industry.”
The Government continues to encourage all parties to cooperate in the spirit of the Intergovernmental Agreement to achieve a sustainable forestry industry for the future.
This is unlike the Liberal Party which has put countless jobs and millions of dollars of assistance at risk by continually undermining the Intergovernmental Agreement to be abandoned. The Coalition wants to undo months and months of progress and threaten the certainty of Tasmania’s forestry industry and economy into the future.
The Gillard Government has policies to support jobs in regional areas of Australia. The $8 million Tasmanian Innovation and Investment Fund will support innovative job creation projects that strengthen Tasmania’s regional economy and employment base, particularly in areas affected by the restructuring of the forestry sector.