The wood and paper industry makes an important contribution to Australia s economy. The Federal Government s Wood and Paper Industry Strategy creates a stable policy environment in which the industry can plan and invest with minimum risk and maximum confidence.
The Strategy encourages investment in ecologically sustainable development. It is a key element in the integration of conservation and industry objectives, and the protection of our forests for future generations.
New investment in the industry will mean jobs growth, particularly in some regions which rely heavily on the wood and paper industry.
It will also help cut Australia s bill for imports of wood and paper products. Imports of these products currently exceed our exports by$2 billion a year.
Industry is currently considering investments of $4 to $6 billion. Industry and unions predict 15,000 to 25,000 new jobs in the industry over the next decade.
What the Strategy does
Australia s native forests, plantations and farm forestry must be managed in an ecologically sustainable way. With such management, they can provide renewable resources for expansion of the wood and paper industry and important gains in economic development and employment.
The Wood and Paper Industry Strategy clears the way for the investment needed to realise those gains. The Strategy focuses on:
- Promoting international competitiveness, value adding and ecological sustainability
- Providing certainty of access to resources from native forests, plantations and recycled materials
- Encouraging a significant expansion of Australia s plantation and commercial farm forestry resource
- Removing impediments to investment and tackling microeconomic reform
- Opening up markets, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region
- Ensuring a skilled and flexible workforce
- Encouraging innovation and research and development
- Improving regional job opportunities
- Fostering community understanding of and involvement in the wood and paper industry in the regions.
The key initiatives
Investment, value adding and competitiveness
There are five key initiatives aimed at promoting investment, value adding and international competitiveness:
- $10.3 million to promote research, innovation and enterprise development
- Priority for value adding projects in the issue of woodchipping licences
- Continued microeconomic reform, particularly in transport and energy and in competition policy covering State forest agencies
- Streamlined Government approval for new projects
- Updated baseline environmental standards for bleached eucalypt kraft (BEK) pulpmills.
Companies planning new investment in the industry need a skilled workforce. Some workers will have to learn new skills. Initiatives include:
- An industry driven education and training plan
- Support for workplace reform and a greater focus on occupational health and safety.
Developing the resource base
Plantations and farm forestry provide the greatest opportunity for growth of the wood and paper industry. The Strategy tackles impediments to plantation development and farm forestry through:
- Removal of export controls on plantation grown wood, subject to protection of environmental values, to encourage further investment in processing plants
- Removal of taxation anomalies
- Expanded support for farmers integrating commercial tree growing into their farming systems and for community reafforestation programs
- Support for research and development
- Improved information on plantation areas, wood flows and markets
- The establishment of regional plantation committees to stimulate, plan and co-ordinate plantation developments in key regions.
Access to resources
Investors need to be sure of reliable supply of wood resources before going ahead with major projects. The Government will provide greater certainty of access to resources and protect the conservation values of native forests through Regional Forest Agreements. These were foreshadowed in the 1992 National Forest Policy Statement agreed between the Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments.
Changes in the use of native forest resources could result in adjustment challenges in some regions of the country. The Government will fund a Labour Adjustment Package for workers, including the self employed, displaced from the native hardwood based sector. Support includes:
- Formal training
- Wages subsidies for jobs outside the affected sector
- Relocation assistance.
Companies moving their business to new opportunities in the forest based industries will be supported through:
- Assistance for workforce training and retraining
- Interest rate subsidies on loans for the purchase of new plant and equipment.
Assistance will also be available for businesses leaving the industry.
Driving the Strategy
The Government has an important role in removing impediments and promoting investment in the wood and paper industry. But the success of this Strategy is in the industry s own hands.
A Wood and Paper Industry Council, drawn predominantly from the industry and unions, will drive the Strategy.
The Council advises the Government on further development of the Strategy, promotes export industry development, value adding opportunities and investment. It will act as an agent of change in the industry.
The Council is chaired by the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, the Hon Senator Peter Cook.
For more information or a copy of the Wood and Paper Industry Strategy, please call the:Strategy Hotline on 1800 634 269.