OPINION: Forestry still important for Tasmanians

The 2024 State Election campaign has shown forestry is still important to Tasmanians, writes Nick Steel.

State elections are a time for review – a chance for the electorate to judge the actions of the former government, to determine who is best placed to lead the state over the next term, and to examine which party best represents their opinions and values.

For the 5,500 Tasmanians employed by our forestry sector it is great comfort that both major parties have backed our industry, offering certainty of supply and stability through their promises, which will allow our businesses to invest in their operations for the long term.

The thousands employed by our sector make up a very diverse industry. We have not only private estate owners and sawmillers, but also businesses as diverse as plywood manufacturers, paper producers, and developers of cutting-edge engineered wood products, so developing policy with industry is essential to meet our various needs.

By backing contracts to existing Tasmanian businesses, as well as guaranteeing hardwood plantation supply and temporarily pausing the current public estate contract negotiations, both parties have shown they believe the majority of Tasmanians want a strong and sustainable forestry industry in our state.

It’s pleasing that politicians from both sides of the aisle have backed our industry, worked directly with us, broadly listened to our concerns, and have acted swiftly to ensure the future success for our businesses – and securing thousands of jobs in regional Tasmania.

And while we welcome the extra resource being made available to our businesses, we continue to insist that any expansion of the public estate must follow due process, including considering balancing the conservation value, the opportunities for aboriginal management and access for the sustainable forestry sector.

We are also pleased that both parties have backed our Election Wishlist – a road map for all political parties and candidates on how best to protect regional communities, the Tasmanian economy and the sustainability and profitability of our members businesses.

With both major parties having now thrown their support behind Tasmanian forestry we look forward to working with whoever triumphs at the coming election to ensure the future success of our local Tasmanian businesses, and the thousands of regional families employed in forestry across the state.

The TFPA Election Wishlist can be downloaded at the TFPA website.

Nick Steel is Chief Executive Officer of the Tasmanian Forest Products Association.


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