NSW Labor calls for Parliamentary Inquiry into NSW Forestry Industry as timber supply runs out and jobs at risk

02 March 2021

NSW Labor is calling for a Parliamentary inquiry into the long-term sustainable future of the NSW forestry and timber industry following the Deputy Premier’s admission that timber supply shortages will increase the price of new homes, delay construction and cost jobs.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro told a NSW Budget Estimates hearing on Friday that “there will be a struggle with supply” and that NSW is facing a “cliff edge moment” where timber supply would run out.
 
Labor Shadow Minister for Natural Resources Paul Scully said: “We’ve been urging the Government to come up with a timber plan that provides long-term certainty and an immediate fix to the problems small businesses are having right now to secure timber stock.
 
“But the Government instead focused so much of its energy on trying to flog off Forestry Corporation and on the chaos in the Coalition that it has ignored these issues.
 
“Now we have real supply problems, house prices will increase, there are delays in housing construction and it’s starting to cost jobs in rural and regional areas.”
 
While the Government finally adopted NSW Labor’s call to abandon the Forestry Corporation sell-off early last year, it has left timber-dependent communities with little hope.
 
In February 2020 NSW Labor called on the Government to appoint a Forestry Recovery Commissioner, along with a timber industry recovery advisory taskforce, to guide the implementation of a recovery plan.
 
“We now need a Parliamentary inquiry into the long-term sustainable future of the forestry and timber industry because of the Government’s failures,”  Mr Scully said.
 
“The inquiry we are proposing will help to better understand the projections for softwood and hardwood timber supply and demand, transparent reporting of the timber supply and the opportunities for the timber and forestry products industry and timber-dependent communities.
 
“We feel it’s time the Parliament took the initiative because clearly this ten-year-old Government has run out of ideas.
 
“A Parliamentary inquiry will give some hope and direction to workers in the forestry industry, mill owners and operators, and timber-dependent communities across NSW.”
 
Mr Scully said there had not been a major review of, or inquiry into, the NSW forestry industry for at least 20 years.
 
“A lot has changed in the forestry and forest product industry during this time, including the major impact of the unprecedented bushfires of 2019-20, so it is timely to examine the supply and value chains of the industry, and let the voice of timber-dependent communities be heard,” he said.