The unions representing forestry and timber workers in NSW are calling on the Berejiklian-Barilaro Government to take urgent action to alleviate the crippling national timber shortage.
The unions want the establishment of a NSW Forest Industry Advisory Council to ensure better management and planning of the State’s timber resources in the wake of the 2019/20 bushfires and impacts of COVID-19 on global supply chains.
The CFMEU Manufacturing Division and the Australian Workers Union have made a joint submission to a NSW Parliamentary Inquiry recommending the new body, which the union wants to focus on reducing the State’s dependence on imported timber.
“Even before the catastrophic fires we had domestic demand for timber outstripping projections for local production,” CFMEU Manufacturing National Secretary Michael O’Connor said.
“The current shortage, fuelled by strong domestic and global demand, will become the norm if action isn’t taken.
“New South Wales’ and the nation’s housing construction industry is at risk from our dependence on imported timber.”
The unions presented evidence in their submission from members at AKD Softwoods and Visy Pulp and Paper Mill in Tumut, Notaras & Sons in South Grafton, Hurford Hardwoods in Kempsey, Warnervale Frame and Truss Plant, Sweetmans Timber in the Hunter Valley, Hyne Timber Tumbarumba, Frames and Trusses Albion Park Rail, and Boral Narooma.
The submission calls for interim measures to maximise hardwood and softwood production to alleviate the timber shortage, training, and transition assistance for laid off timber workers in addition to a long-term plan to support the industry.
The unions have made 17 recommendations through the Parliamentary Committee and union delegates from the mills around the state will travel to Sydney for the forthcoming public hearings.