Australia’s timber union has called for an immediate action plan to value add Australia’s timber resource currently exported to China.
The Manufacturing Division of the CFMEU says that the only long- term solution to the current China timber export ban was to use the current export resource here in Australia generating and securing thousands of jobs in regional Australia.
“The current export ban by China highlights that we, as a country, have been too reliant on exporting our raw resources.”
“We should be processing our raw resources here, generating more jobs and better economic and social outcomes for our country.” Said Mr. Michael O’Connor, National Secretary CFMEU, Manufacturing.
The union also called for short term Federal Government assistance for workers and companies hit by the Chinese export ban.
“With have had workers stood down, companies taking a hit, and pressure on our harvesting and haulage sector and we need some assistance as a matter of urgency.” Said Mr. O’Connor
The union’s call came after the Chinese timber export ban was extended to NSW and WA just before Christmas
Mr. O’Connor said “If we want to maximise job security, job growth and support our regional communities than an action plan to value add our forest resource needs to be developed, implemented, and lead by Federal and State Governments”
The union believes that there is enough exported forest resource to supply one or two pulp mills and several reconstituted wood products mills and would provide better conditions to see the securing and expanding Australia’s plantation estate.
“To expand our plantations we need more local long term demand for our logs and woodchips”
The union will write to Federal and State Governments pushing for immediate action on its proposal.
” We need to act now. We have no time to waste to both, implement short term assistance and develop a timber value adding plan. Our industry doesn’t have to be a price taker or a prisoner of the on- going tension between our country and China. Let’s get on with maximising our resources, maximising jobs and supporting our regional communities.”