Councils call on Labor to match Liberal promise
Six South Australian councils have joined forces in an unprecedented move to launch a new campaign called #aussietimberjobsfirst and demand Federal Government action to protect thousands of local timber jobs.
The councils – Grant, Wattle Range, Mt. Gambier, Robe, Kingston and Naracoorte Lucindale – in the State’s South-East, say their communities are suffering as fibre is being exported at unprecedented levels leaving local processors starved of the vital resource.
“Australia’s timber producers are the lifeblood of many regional towns, contributing more than $300 million each year to our local economy and supporting 2500 jobs, small businesses and extensive supply chains,” said Mt Gambier Mayor Lynette Martin OAM.
“With a dramatic shortfall in supply, timber mills are at risk of closing, jobs are in jeopardy, and families are finding it very hard to make ends meet.”
The new campaign will focus on making politicians and voters understand just how challenging it is for many regional communities who rely on the timber industry for income and jobs, particularly when the export of timber is restricting supply to the local industry.
Last week, local Federal MP Tony Pasin and the Morrison Government, committed to an inquiry into the timber processing industry if re-elected on 18 May.
The councils are now putting pressure on the Federal Opposition to make a similar pledge.
“What we need is an ongoing, stable and sustainable supply of good quality timber so that the domestic industry can grow, jobs can be created, and our local communities can become vibrant again.”
Once owned by the South Australian Government, many of these forests were originally planted to create a robust local industry. However, since their privatisation in the 1990s, new owners have switched focus to overseas markets, which, in turn, has seen a massive surge in the sale of unprocessed timber to China.
“Australia is one of the few nations in the world that allows for the unchecked and unrestricted export of its forestry resource,” said Mayor Martin.
“While we accept that export is a vital part of our national economy, it shouldn’t happen at the expense of local jobs especially when these exports don’t pay GST which is a further disadvantage to local producers who do.
“This is about fair access to timber that was originally planted in order to develop and sustain local industry.
This is about putting Australian timber jobs first.”
For further information please contact:
Mayor Lynette Martin OAM, City of Mount Gambier on 0455 782 535
Mr Ben Gower, CEO Wattle Range Council on 0402 177 247