The Federal Government has today confirmed that it has begun delivery of Regional Forestry Hubs (Hubs), first committed to in the National Forest Industries Plan announced in September last year, through announcing $1 million in start-up funding for four initial Hubs, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA), Mr Ross Hampton said today.
The Government has announced that $1 million will be provided to each Hub over four years. The four areas which are being funded are South West Western Australia, North/North West Tasmania, North East NSW and the Green Triangle area which straddles the South Australian and Victorian border.
“This funding is vital to allow forest industries to properly plan for the Government’s delivery of its broader commitment to plant one billion new production trees, to secure the future of forest industries in this country. Forestry can absolutely run complementary to other farming activities, but it is key to ensure that the right trees are planted at the right scale and in the right places,” Mr Hampton said.
“I expect the Hubs to appoint steering groups which will engage with local governments, the community, farmers groups and other key stakeholders to ensure that the next phase of forestry growth in Australia is managed carefully and for the benefit of all.
“However, this announcement falls short of delivering on two key policy requests that AFPA will be prosecuting in the election campaign.
“Firstly, it is inexplicable that the Government has announced just four Hubs whilst leaving out several regions which boast some of Australia’s most mature and productive forestry regions. Areas like the Tumut-Tumbarumba region, South-East Queensland and Southern Tasmania. In all there are 13 forestry intensive regions in Australia and both Parties will be asked to commit to 13 fully funded Hubs*.
“Secondly, there is still no funding or policy changes which will actually deliver more trees to help meet the Government’s one billion new trees goal. Unless there are policy changes to drive new tree plantings, this goal will remain just an ambition,” Mr Hampton concluded.
*The 13 identified Hub locations are:
• South West Western Australia
• North/North West Tasmania
• North East NSW
• Green Triangle SA/VIC
Not yet funded.
• Gippsland Victoria
• North East Victoria
• South West Slopes NSW
• Central West NSW
• South East NSW
• South East QLD
• North QLD
• North Northern Territory
• Southern Tasmania