No certainty for timber businesses from Environment Minister

Environment Minister Reece Whitby has refused to guarantee supply for local timber businesses past December 2023.

In response to direct questions asked by Shadow Minister for Forestry Steve Martin, Minister Whitby could not confirm what quantities of timber will be allocated in the 2024-23 Forest Management Plan (FMP).

“The Minister’s refusal to guarantee supply that is vital to the livelihood of so many Western Australian businesses is appalling,” Mr Martin said.

“Furniture manufacturers, saw millers, firewood supplies, heritage builders and other sectors of the timber industry have been calling for certainty ahead of the new FMP.

“Minister Whitby had the opportunity to put their minds at ease but failed. He clearly shows a lack of understanding of the enormous impact that his decision is having on so many people and communities in regional WA.”

“Vague promises of timber being available from environmental thinning and mine site clearing aren’t enough. Timber businesses need to plan and need certainty and they need it now.”

Native forestry in the South West has provided countless jobs and opportunities for workers over the generations. Just a few years ago, the McGowan Labor Government welcomed Parkside into Western Australia with open arms and encouraged investment and job creation in the South West.

Now two years on, hundreds of regional workers are set to lose their jobs as a direct result of Labor’s decision to ban native hardwood harvesting.

“By refusing to give businesses and employees any certainty around future allocations and contract processes in the FMP, Minister Whitby is making sure that people who rely on the timber industry suffer for as long as possible,” Mr Martin said.

“Until the industry has some clarity about what the future holds, we can only expect the number of people who lose their livelihood to increase as a result of this careless decision.

“We can also expect to see an increase in timber imports in the near future as a direct result of the McGowan Labor Government’s failure to protect vital regional industries like forestry.

“By shutting down a sustainable, local industry, Premier McGowan and Minister Whitby have shown us that Labor would rather rely on importing questionably sourced resources into WA than protect our regional jobs.

“Labor must give clarity to the native hardwood industry and ensure that timber allocation amounts are decided on well before the end of the current FMP.”