Timber processor jobs ‘in jeopardy’

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Timber processor jobs ‘in jeopardy’

Up to 130 jobs in the timber milling industry in the Limestone Coast are in jeopardy according to the State Opposition.

The claim has recently been made in the Legislative Council by Liberal leader Dr Nicola Centofanti as she directed a number of questions to Forest Industries Minister Clare Scriven.

“I have been approached by community members who have significant concerns the company which bought the harvesting rights to the State Government plantations is now, in spite of terms of the lease agreement, planning to terminate supply agreements to two family-owned sawmilling businesses in the Mount Gambier region,” claimed Dr Centofanti.

“The magnitude of the cutbacks is apparently such these timber processors may be forced to close their doors, resulting in no employment for 130 personnel.

“As Minister for Forest Industries and as a constituent from the South East, is Ms Scriven aware of these concerns?

“What is she doing to ensure these family-owned sawmills are not forced to shut because they cannot access supply of timber?”

In reply, Minister Scriven said she was familiar with these concerns, partly because they were raised over previous years when the Liberals were the party that was in government.

“It appears that none of that was addressed during that time,” Minister Scriven said.

“However, I do acknowledge it is a difficult issue to address, given that log contracts are between private parties and therefore there is limited ability for intervention from government.

“One of the actions that I have taken since becoming minister was to write to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in regard to what opportunities there are for parameters to be put in place that might enable local processors, who perhaps cannot compete on the same basis as the larger processors, to be able to access timber.

“I met recently with the South Australian Timber Processors Association.

“We, of course, talk about these sorts of matters quite frequently.

“They were going to be having an online meeting with the ACCC, and I am hopeful that might be one avenue that we can pursue in terms of assisting those processors.”

OneFortyOne executive general manager forests Cameron MacDonald has confirmed it is his company referenced by Dr Centofanti.

He has supplied the following statement to The SE Voice.

“In October 2021, OneFortyOne communicated its Green Triangle Forest Resource outlook to customers and stakeholders,” Mr MacDonald said.

“In that communication we committed to run a market tender for any surplus volumes that might become available during the period to June 30, 2025.

“In line with this commitment, we have already informed existing customers that we will be running a market tender shortly for medium-large diameter sawlog for one year of volume through to June 30, 2024.

“There are several other forest growers in the Green Triangle region.

“We understand a competitive market tender for significant volumes was recently completed for the near to medium term and note that a number of processors were successful in securing fibre.

“We re-iterate that we have not exported any medium-large diameter sawlog since 2018 and do not anticipate exporting any during the timeframe discussed (i.e., to June 30, 2025).

“There remains an excess of small diameter and pulp log across the region from all growers, some of which is exported via Portland.

“OneFortyOne continues to work with all local processors to identify opportunities to process this fibre domestically.

“The forest industry generates over $1bin revenue for South Australia and OneFortyOne continues to support policy efforts to support and grow the sector, ensuring future timber resource for Australia.”

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