Election 2022: PM promises forestry industry hub in Launceston

By Melissa Coade

April 14, 2022

Scott Morrison
Scott Morrison in Mowbray Tasmania, in the Division of Bass, Thursday, April 14, 2022. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

A future for the forestry industry will be secured, Scott Morrison has pledged on the election trail, asserting the Coalition ‘gets regional Australia’.

It was a morning of pithy slogans about economic management, spruiking traditional resource industries like forestry, and job security in regional and rural Australia. During a press conference in Launceston, Tasmania, the Liberal leader pledged his team, if returned to power, would be a pro-forestry government. 

“Under our government, we won’t support any shutdowns of native forestry, and we will continue to work with state governments to create permanent timber production areas,” Morrison said.

“Today we’re announcing $106.6 million to boost Australia’s forestry research and development capability,” he said. 

Of that funding, $100 million over five years will go towards establishing a National Institute for Forest Products Innovation. The host hub for the institute would be based in Launceston, Morrison said, with five other centres of excellence based in other parts of regional Australia. 

Eleven regional forestry hubs will also receive $6.6 million in extended government funding, with a view to connecting local industry and business connect with their research findings.

“Only the Liberals and Nationals have a plan to secure and grow Australia’s forestry industry as we build a stronger economy and a stronger future,” Morrison said. 

The pm said in the past few years – particularly during the pandemic – Australia had faced building material shortages and uncertainty around global supply chains. Investing in jobs and skills in regional Australia to sure-up the local resources supported by the forestry industry was a key measure.

“The pressures on the building industry and the uncertain international trade situation has made it clear that local wood products and local skills are critical. Just ask any tradie who has been trying to get wood products,” Morrison said. 

“We can turbocharge this $23 billion industry with the right skills development and the right cutting edge research that our plan delivers.”

Tasmanian senator and forestry and fisheries assistant minister Jonno Duniam said the plan would back local jobs and increase self-reliance for locally produced wood products.

“These investments mean helping our businesses and workers develop new timber products for buildings, turning wood waste into useful materials, and replacing plastics with wood-based bioplastics,” Duniam said.

“Australia’s forests aren’t just the basis of a critical industry supporting 73,000 jobs. They also store around 22 billion tonnes of carbon. Our investments are good for jobs and good for the climate.”

The Coalition’s forestry plan builds on two multi-million dollar budget measures including an $86.2 million Plantation Establishment Program and a $4.4 million investment to stop illegal timber imports from undercutting Australian producers. 

A further $112.9 million was announced on Thursday, which the Coalition said would go to grants to accelerate new wood processing technologies in Australia’s manufacturing and processing businesses.

The better-the-devil-you-know fear-mongering reached fever pitch with Morrison insisting multiple times that voters would have a choice at the voting booths on May 21 between what he described as his ‘government who understands the economy’ and ‘a choice of a Labor Opposition that people don’t know and can’t manage money’.

“An important part of our economic plan for our country is our government [understands] what drives regional economies, and why that’s important: because regional economies drive our national economy,” Morrison said.

“Whether it’s forestry, whether it’s the agricultural sector, whether it’s the fishing sector, whether it is our resources sector — these sectors is what enables us to drive a strong economy that creates the jobs and the momentum in our economy that enables us to employ nurses and teachers and care workers, and all the other jobs that flow from our successful producing regional industries,” he said.


READ MORE:

Government push to boost forestry jobs, harvesting the ‘ultimate renewable resource’

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