Back in June last year (2020) I wrote a submission to a Federal Parliament House of Representatives Standing Committee inquiry into plantation log supply constraints in Australia.
Here is the link to the inquiry including the final report and submissions:
As I noted at the time, the Terms of Reference for the inquiry were very typical for the forest industry in Australia, ie. the focus was all on the processors and “jobs”.
And the title for the final report says it all (what a f*****g joke!):
Aussie logs for Aussie jobs
Inquiry into timber supply chain constraints in the Australian plantation sector
Was the inquiry about supporting, encouraging and rewarding profitable tree growers?
Not on your life!
The primary focus of the inquiry was about protectionism and market manipulation.
Don’t get me wrong! I’m happy to support local processing of forest products, but not if it means denying growers the right to open, competitive, transparent markets. Making long term investments, like growing timber, is hard enough without Governments and industry slamming the door in your face.
And this Inquiry and this Report provide absolutely no comfort to existing and potential timber growers, that such market interference wont happen!
So what can I say about the Report?
At least the report is more honest about the current state of the forest industry in Australia than a lot of previous reports.
The picture is rather gloomy!!
The forest plantation sector in Australia is in decline, losing resource and becoming less competitive.
The focus of the report is on commodity wood (pine and hardwood woodchips), with no mention of high value appearance grade forest products.
If nothing else, I recommend reading the section on Farm Forestry which begins on page 59 of the Report. I don’t agree with everything it says, I do agree that there are significant issues, most of which are not being addressed.
One curiosity is the mention in the Report of a “National Farm Forestry Strategy”. Apparently the Federal Government is producing one, but if you Google “National Farm Forestry Strategy” nothing appears!! We have had these strategies before and they have all failed. Let us wait and see!
And the biggest issue for me is the culture and attitude of the forest industry itself, and the “head-in-the sand” attitude of the marketplace!