Archival Document December 1995
Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Senator Peter Cook
Minister for Resources David Beddall
The Federal Government's four-year Strategy to further develop the wood and paper industry -- while protecting forests for future generations -- was announced by the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Senator Peter Cook, and the Minister for Resources, David Beddall, today.
The Strategy involves a $38 million industry development package.
It recognises that this is an industry in transition -- and one which is gearing up to greater value-adding and improved productivity. The Strategy is complemented by structural adjustment assistance to business and workers of $107 million.
A further $53 million is already being spent on developing Regional Forest
Agreements (RFAs), which will provide greater certainty of resource for the industry.
This is at a time when the industry is considering investments of between $4 billion and $6 billion and predicting potential new jobs growth of between 15.000 and 25.000 over the next decade.
The Strategy, which builds on the RFAs, creates a stable policy environment in which the industry can plan and invest with minimum risk and maximum confidence. It was developed following .extensive public comment, and consultations with the industry, conservation groups, community organisations, and unions.
Major initiatives include:
- encouraging greater innovation, value-adding, and downstream-processing of woodchips currently exported
- removing impediments to investments and hastening the pace of microeconomic reforms crucial to the international competitiveness of the industry
- opening export markets -- particularly in the Asia-Pacific region -- and maximising import replacement
- helping to build the industry's skills and creating regional job opportunities · encouraging increased plantation and farm forestry development, and
- improving data on the resources potentially available to the industry, especially from plantations, farm forests, and recycled materials.
"Investors are currently considering a wide range of projects, including pulp, paper and recycling mills, sawmills and board plants, plant upgrades and expansions, and environmental upgrades and plantation development.
"The Strategy is a clear signal to the industry that the Government is prepared to support such projects.
"It will boost jobs, help tackle Australia's current account problems, and contribute to the global imperative of ecologically sustainable development," Senator Cook said.
A Wood and Paper Industry Council would be set up to drive the Strategy, and encourage industry development, value-adding and investment.
"The Council, drawn mainly from the industry and the unions, will identify new market and investment opportunities, and play a role in making sure the industry reaches its potential," Senator Cook said.
The Government will announce membership of the Council later this month, once key stakeholders have had an opportunity to examine the details of the Strategy.
Mr Beddall said the Strategy encourages expansion and full use of Australia's hardwood and softwood plantations as a commercial resource. Plantations will be complemented by a secure supply of wood, which will be available from sustainably managed native forests.
"The Strategy recognises that plantations and farm forestry offer tremendous longterm opportunity for growth in resources for industry use," Mr Beddall said.
"The Government will remove impediments to plantation development, working with the States to ensure private sector investment goes ahead.
"Value-adding to wood taken from native forests outside areas required for the reserve system is a padicularly important objective of the Strategy.
"In allocating woodchip licences, I have considered the commitment of the applicants to domestic processing and value adding," Mr Beddall said.
In conjunction with the Strategy, Senator Cook will release next week the revised guidelines on the environmental standards required of any new bleached eucalypt kraft pulp mills.
The Wood and Paper Industry Strategy Hotline is: 1800 634269.
The Strategy is available on the Internet at: http://www.dist.gov.au/home.html
1 December 1995
Russell Faull, Senator Cook's Office 06 277 7580
Tamara Johnson, Mr Beddall's Office 06 277 7440