The Nationals’ candidate for Eden Monaro Sophie Wade has thrown her support behind Softwoods Working Group’s (SWG) submission to establish the South West Slopes forestry hub as part of the Federal Government’s ‘Billion Trees’ program.
Last Thursday, Ms Wade spent the day with SWG visiting Carabost, Green Hills and Bondo State Forests, Blowering Nursery and AKD Softwoods sawmill at Tumut.
She described her day as enormous and rewarding, seeing first hand so many aspects of the industry including thinning and harvesting.
Ms Wade said it was unbelievable just how integrated and collaborative the region’s forest industry was, and she thanked the SWG for its expertise, time, and for welcoming her into the forestry community.
SWG economic advisor Diana Gibbs gave Ms Wade a detailed presentation on forest industry economics, which showed the massive impact the industry has in the region.
As stated in SWG’s submission to the Federal Government, there are some 125,000 hectares of plantation in the region, making it the largest socio-economic presence of any softwood region in Australia, supporting 5,375 direct and indirect jobs and generating a gross economic contribution of more than $2 billion a year.
SWG chairman Peter Crowe said Ms Wade now has a very good understanding of how the timber industry works and how important it is to the region.
“As well as visiting the forests and mill, she saw examples of genetic improvement in the plantations, the scale of the operation and complexity and intensity of the road networks in the forests, and the vital role that road infrastructure plays in maintaining the competitive position of our locally based industries,” he said.
“Sophie totally supports SWG application for hub status. She is also fully aware of the Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack’s letter of support, which was included in the SWG’s application to be a designed regional forestry hub, sent to Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.”
Mr Crowe said the SWG was calling on the Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources for Forestry, Senator Colbeck, to immediately confirm hub status for the South West Slopes region along with funding of $250,000 a year for four years to enable implementation of the National Forest Industries Plan to proceed without delay in this extremely important region.