Eden-Monaro MP Mike Kelly said the forestry industry in Tumut and Tumbarumba will be left shaking its head after a decision not to recognize the area as one of the new federal government forestry hubs.
Earlier this year the federal government announced it would provide $12.5 million to kick-start nine new forestry hubs.
Four initial pilot hubs were named, and the Tumut-Tumbarumba region wasn’t among those.
That’s led to local timber lobby groups questioning why the home to the country’s largest softwoods plantations has been left out.
“The government has identified regional forestry hubs around the country that would receive government funding – our Tumut and Tumbarumba timber region is receiving absolutely no funding,” Mr Kelly said.
“What’s more, the Government has outlined nothing new and those in the forestry industry in our region, who have now been waiting more than five years for meaningful action and a strategic vision from the Abbott/Turnbull and Morrison Governments have been let down yet again.”
“By contrast, Federal Labor is working with the forestry industry on policies to drive investment in growth in the plantation estate, particularly by removing barriers that are currently preventing plantations from participating in the carbon market.”
Mr Kelly said Labor wants to see plantations play a greater role in climate change mitigation, “and if we can get more timber for our mills at the same time then that’s a win-win”.
“Our plan would enable particle board operations that are closing at Carter Holt Harvey to get going again, along with expansion of the Visy Pulp Mill and the Dongwha Tasco Mill at Bombala,” Mr Kelly said.
“It would provide resource security for all our timber enterprises in the region and enable new applications in construction industry techniques.
Mr Kelly said a Labor government, if elected, would hold a summit for the forestry sector to inform the development of a comprehensive forestry strategic plan and in a bipartisan manner, will consider the work undertaken so far.
“Labor’s plan will seek to adequately promote sustainable profitability, local downstream processing, and good local jobs,” Mr Kelly said.
“It will be developed by government, industry, employers and trade unions.”