The Palaszczuk Government is taking decisive action to support regional Queensland timber industry jobs, locking in hardwood supplies in the Wide-Bay Burnett region up to 2026.
A new timber industry action plan, launched today by the Premier, will guide the preservation of Queensland’s timber industry, which employs 8800 people and injects $3.8 billion into the Queensland economy every year.
The industry is of particular importance to the Maryborough region, currently supporting 500 direct jobs and many more indirect jobs.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said this announcement was another example of her Government’s commitment to listening and delivering on jobs for regional Queensland.
“My Government has a laser sharp focus on supporting new jobs and economic development in regional Queensland.
“This announcement will help secure the employment of 500 Maryborough and Wide Bay locals working in the industry.
“It’s also a win for hundreds more people and businesses who indirectly rely on the timber industry.
“This is a responsible decision that balances my Government’s commitment to both jobs and the environment.
“I want Queensland to have an internationally competitive and sustainable industry.
“This process will refresh the South East Queensland Regional Forests Agreement for a new generation. This was a monumental achievement entered into in good faith by government, industry and conservation groups, but it needs to be updated to recognise new unexpected challenges facing the industry.”
Member for Maryborough Bruce Saunders, who has been a driving force behind the Palaszczuk Government’s intervention to save timber jobs, said the action plan showed what could be achieved when industry and communities working together.
“The timber industry across Queensland has been crying out for certainty of supply and it is the Palaszczuk Labor Government that is delivering that certainty,” Mr Saunders said.
“In this region the action plan assured industry that supply in Wide Bay Burnett will continue up to 2026, while we bring all industry stakeholders together to build a sustainable future that also ensures conservation outcomes.
“I am extremely grateful to the timber workers, employers and industry groups for the commitment they have shown in ensuring a future for this industry and I am proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with them.”
The Palaszczuk Government’s timber action plan will:
- Extend the continuation of hardwood timber harvesting in Wide Bay Burnett for an additional 2 years, guaranteeing access up to 2026;
- Establish a timber advisory panel responsible for overseeing and making plans with the industry for the future;
- Conduct a comprehensive two-year study to identify sustainable future options for timber supply, including on private land, to be completed in 2021;
- Bring the unsuccessful hardwood plantation program, a partnership between HQPlantations and the Queensland Government, to a close; and
- End the issuing of ‘rolling-term’ permits in the Western hardwoods region, with sales permits to end in 2034. New permits will be fixed-term and competitively based to provide opportunity and certainty for industry; and help to transition hardwood plantations to best land use and sustainable arrangements.
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said the economics of timber industries around the world is changing and Australia and Queensland were not immune to this.
“This plan for the industry is honest, achievable and realistic. It will work with communities reliant on the industry to take the necessary steps needed to plan for their future.
“Sustainably managed timber is increasingly being recognised globally as the ultimate renewable and a key plank of the worlds response to climate change, carbon capture and carbon sequestration” Mr Furner said.
Hardwood forestry harvesting will end in the South East Queensland Regional Plan area (south of Noosa) in 2024 as originally envisioned by the 1999 South East Queensland Forests Agreement and a commitment has been made to progressively hand back up to 20,000 hectares of land to become conservation estate before 2024.
The Government has also committed to a major study involving industry peak bodies, timber workers, employers, landholders and conservation groups to identify new avenues for sustainable long-term supply options for hardwood and cypress timber across the state.