NSW Labor has renewed calls for a Forest Recovery Commissioner to be appointed to help guide the industry’s recovery, in the wake of devastating fires and current COVID-19 pandemic.
It comes after the Liberal-National Government progressed with Labor’s Forestry Recovery Plan, with the announcement of a financial contribution to rebuild fencing along Forestry Corporation land boundaries.
Shadow Minister for Natural Resources, Paul Scully, said that while property owners welcome $209 million to rebuild damaged fencing adjoining with Forestry Corporation land, it should not have taken this long to offer assistance.
“Had it not been for the COVID-19 stimulus plan, the Liberal-National Government would never have come to the party and offered financial assistance to land owners with properties neighbouring Forestry Corporation land – support it should have offered months ago,” Mr Scully said.
“This announcement is months overdue. Support to rebuild damaged or destroyed fencing should have been much higher on the Berejiklian Government’s priority list.”
Mr Scully said he looked forward to the Berejiklian Government continuing to adopt NSW Labor’s forestry industry recovery plan.
“NSW Labor put forward a plan to help the forestry industry and timber-dependent communities in February and had it been adopted then it would have reduced the uncertainty around the sector’s recovery,” Mr Scully said.
The Berejiklian-Barilaro Government should now commit to:
- Appointing a Forest Recovery Commissioner, along with a timber industry recovery advisory taskforce to guide the implementation of a recovery plan
- Delivering financial support for mill operators to accommodate the additional capital expenditure needed and help to support cash flows during the years of recovery facing the industry
- Repairing damaged infrastructure in the forestry estates
- Eradicating weeds and pests, especially blackberries which are a substantial contributor to high fuel loads
- Establishing a workforce plan for mill workers as the industry runs at lower capacity which is expected in the next two to three years
“There’s still plenty more for the Berejiklian Government to do when it comes to supporting the sustainable recovery of the NSW timber and forestry industry.
“I’m pleased the Government has already adopted a large part of NSW Labor’s plan and now it’s time they adopted the rest of it," Mr Scully said.