The NSW Labor Opposition is deeply concerned that the Berejiklian Barilaro Government has taken a step closer towards the privatisation of the Forestry Corporation.
Such a move would put hundreds of regional and rural jobs at risk and undermine the good work of public servants in the management of our forests.
Today it was revealed that Treasurer Dominic Perrottet and Deputy Premier and Nationals Leader John Barilaro have ordered a study into the “viability” of privatising Forestry Corporation’s softwoods division.
It comes a week after both refused to rule out the privatisation of Forestry Corporation, and just months after the Premier said in the lead up to the state election that no more privatisations were on the cards.
Earlier this week, NSW Labor Leader, Jodi McKay and Mr Scully, visited Coffs Harbour and Wauchope to speak with Forestry Corporation employees who are concerned for their jobs.
The softwood division manages more than 230,000 hectares of plantation pine forests that provide enough timber for about a quarter of the timber used in housing annually. The division employs more than 190 staff in rural and regional NSW operations within Forestry Corporation and cross-subsidises the operations of other timber divisions.
NSW Labor Leader Jodi McKay said: “The Liberals and Nationals cannot be trusted when it comes to the state’s assets. Their business model is to sell off the state’s assets which they have done to the tune of $70 billion since coming to office in 2011.
“Privatisation means one thing and one thing only – higher prices and fewer jobs, as we have seen with the electricity distributors and the land titles office.” Deputy Leader and
Shadow Minister for Rural and Regional Jobs Yasmin Catley said: “They have watched as rural and regional job guarantees provided by the Nationals amount to nothing when Sydney-based Liberals get involved.
“They have watched as Essential Energy jobs were under pressure and are still not satisfied that those jobs have actually been saved.
Shadow Minister for Natural Resources, Paul Scully, said that NSW Labor opposes the privatisation of the state’s forest assets.
“Forestry workers and their families simply do not believe that John Barilaro and the Nationals when they claim they can secure job guarantees”, Mr Scully said.
“Forestry workers also are concerned about the impact of privatisation on the management of plantations as well as the knock-on effect that it could have on other divisions of Forestry Corporation, on timber supply agreements and, potentially, on the price of new housing.
“Once again the Berejiklian Government is proving that it is willing to sell off any of the State’s assets to fill the budget black holes on its bungled and botched projects.”