The Hon Tony Burke MP
Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
The Hon Simon Crean MP
Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government
Minister for the Arts
The Hon Dick Adams MP
Member for Lyons
Tasmanian Forests Agreement to save more than 500 forestry jobs
Joint media release
27 February 2013
A new socio-economic impacts study has found the Tasmanian Forests Agreement would prevent substantial job losses in Tasmania's forestry industry.
Regional Australia Minister Simon Crean and Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke today released the study, which shows more than 500 forestry jobs could be saved if the forests peace deal is implemented.
At the University of Tasmania today, Mr Crean said these jobs are in addition to the thousands of jobs created under the agreement's $120 million economic diversification package.
"The number of jobs in the Tasmanian forestry industry halved between 2006 and 2011 in response to market forces," Mr Crean said.
"The modelling in this study predicts more of the same, in the absence of the long-term, durable solution to the forestry dispute offered by the Tasmanian Forests Agreement.
"An estimated 678 direct jobs will go unless the agreement is implemented. That compares with expected job losses of 142 under a managed transition to the wood supplies guaranteed in the historic deal signed by the Reference Group of Signatories last year."
Mr Burke said that after decades of conflict the Gillard Government is supporting the community-led Forests Agreement to deliver a sustainable future for Tasmania.
"This will be a future with secure jobs and some great conservation outcomes,'' Mr Burke said.
"Some of these forests have been eligible for World Heritage status for a generation. The bringing together of the outcome for jobs provides a truly historic conservation opportunity.
"There's no doubt the industry is undergoing a painful transition but this report shows there is a way of limiting the fallout from market forces by providing the certainty the forestry industry needs.
"That is why the Australian Government has committed $324 million to provide certainty for Tasmania's forest industry, support local jobs and communities, and to protect the state's iconic forests.
"We stand ready to provide significant funding to support a lasting solution to Tasmania's forestry dispute, including money to support industry restructuring, support for workers and contractors, and to encourage economic and industry diversification. These opportunities will be lost if the Legislative Council rejects the forestry package."
Member for Lyons Dick Adams said regional Tasmania, particularly Southern regions, would be hit by significant job losses if the forestry deal does not go ahead.
"This report reveals that passing the forestry agreement would save nearly 300 jobs in Southern Tasmania, more than 100 direct jobs in the North-West and more than 130 in the North-East," Mr Adams said.
Mr Crean said the economic diversification funding was already delivering real benefits to regional Tasmania, with the first $24 million tranche of those funds invested in projects driven by communities to diversify and strengthen the economy, attracting investment, growth and jobs.
"We recently announced the release of $3 million for urgent work on residues and specialty timber and convened the Economic Diversification Tasmania Taskforce to bring business, union and community leaders together to identify opportunities to unlock future investments, create jobs and turn Tasmania's abundant natural advantages into a competitive edge," Mr Crean said.
"These opportunities and the remaining $93 million will both be lost if the Legislative Council fails to pass the forestry package.
"The funding already provided for ten projects under the economic diversification stream has the potential to generate up to 4,000 new jobs in areas including dairy, aquaculture, viticulture, soft fruits, tourism and agriculture sectors.
"Imagine what could be achieved with an additional $93 million injection of funds.
"The passage of the agreement gives the forestry industry the best chance to restructure, consolidate and grow.
"The report highlights the great growth opportunities through a transition to new and engineered wood products. With a relatively low capital investment these products demonstrate potentially higher value-add than those traditional timber products.
"Failure to pass the agreement will only ensure the continuing decline of the industry. The cost of not supporting the package is significantly greater than the cost of passing the package.
"Tasmania has a huge future but it can only unlock this potential by reaching an agreement, allowing for the transition to a long-term sustainable forest products industry and a diversified economy."
For a copy of the study, go to http://www.environment.gov.au/land/forests/index.html