It’s great to see someone finally come out with a positive vision post-TFIA. It’s long overdue, but better late than never. The report commissioned by Senator Bob Brown and authored by Naomi Edwards and Jamie Hanson (EHR) outlines potential areas where the TFIA regional development money ($120m) could possibly be spent to build a stronger, more diverse Tasmanian economy. There’s just one problem…
There’s no mention of any future forest industry. Or rather it says that “the IGA provides for the existence of a sustainable forestry industry going forward.” This is clearly not true! The IGA merely defines what remaining public native forest will be available for harvesting. That is not a vision of a future prosperous forest industry.
The EHR also indicates that none of the IGA regional development money should be used in forestry-related projects. Why?
Just because commercial access to public native forest is declining doesn’t mean the end of the forest industry (although curiously the TFGA would have us believe this to be the case). There is already a significant private forest resource (both native forest and plantation) existing in the State. With proper policy and support this could grow and be a major contributor to the State’s economy (Jan Davis where are you?). My own proposal for a blackwood growers cooperative is just one of a range of private forestry initiatives that could see Tasmania become a major private forest grower and processor.
At the risk of being repetitive and boring I will remind readers that New Zealand has a thriving, sustainable, privately-owned, profitable forest industry that is a cornerstone of their economy. There is no reason why Tasmania cannot follow the New Zealand example if it wants too. Why is such an option deliberately excluded from the Edwards-Hanson report?
Deliberately excluding the forest industry from the EHR will just enflame those who support the forest industry, who will see the EHR as merely a political document reflecting Bob Browns own political agenda. The IGA doesn’t need more antagonists. We already have a surplus of those (with little or no commercial potential).
Using the New Zealand forest industry as an example Tasmania could have a thriving profitable private forest industry, producing a range of wood products from high-value to commodity. A good foundation already exists. Why deliberately exclude this option from the EHR?