So the NSW Forestry Minister Paul Toole rushes in to confirm that the forest industry IS a taxpayer and ratepayer subsidised loss-making community service.
The forest industry IS NOT a primary industry at all!
It’s knowingly anti-commercial and anti-competitive!
Firstly comes the threat of job losses from the Minister.
Yes the forest industry has been subsidised for so long that job losses are inevitable. The forest industry needs to become competitive in global wood markets otherwise it will wither and die. Subsidising the forest industry wont save it!
But once the industry becomes fully commercial and competitive comes the opportunity for growth and expansion, and more jobs. Curious that the Minister only focuses on the negative, not on the opportunities.
Second comes the idea from the Minister that State forest is Crown land and is not rateable. The fact that private forest owners are immediately disadvantaged by this situation is completely ignored. If anyone (Government or private) grows trees for wood production then that is a business and must be treated as such, and treated equally. A level commercial playing field is absolutely essential.
Talking about cemeteries, parks and racetracks is deliberate obfuscation!!
Finally the Minister tries to convince his readers that the NSW Forestry Corporation is a community service NOT a business.
NSWFC’s primary purpose is to manage forests for wood production AS A BUSINESS!! Why else is it called a corporation? And as a corporation it must be managed like any other private tree growing business and pay rates.
The Oberon mayor Cr Sajowitz said last week that she wanted to stress that a “vibrant, expanding timber industry is absolutely vital to the economic stability, growth and prosperity of our towns”.
But she said “government profit at the expense of local communities is not tenable”.
The Oberon Mayor is completely correct but she could provide a broader, more forceful argument.
If the forest industry can’t operate in a fully commercial and fair manner then it’s future is indeed grim.
How is the forest industry going to remain competitive in global markets if it relies on increasing subsidies?
How is the forest industry going to attract private investment if private investors have to compete against a subsidised competitor?
These basic matters of proper commercial management need to be resolved if the forest industry in Australia is to have any future at all.
Unfortunately there are very few people who understand and even fewer who are pushing for change.