Supporting our Forestry Communities
The South Australian Forestry industry is worth $2.8 billion to the South Australian economy annually and employs 13,000 people directly and indirectly across the state.
Unfortunately, the forward sale of Government harvesting rights from our state forests has been a major blow to the South East community and substantially undermined local confidence.
We need to ensure that reporting requirements on the conditions of sale have a higher level of independent scrutiny and audit that gives the community confidence. SA-BEST will make this a priority.
Furthermore, we believe the loss of consistent revenue stream from Forestry SÁ directly back to the people of South Australian and commitment to regional processing and jobs was an opportunity squandered.
We now need to ensure initiatives are put in place to support our forest communities by encouraging diversification and sustainability of the forest, wood and paper industries in our state. This is important to help create more jobs and increase productivity, resulting in growth of our regions and our economy.
As a key focus, SA-BEST wants a much stronger emphasis on local processing and manufacturing.
We propose to work with the South Australian Industry Advocate to develop a local procurement policy for timber and forestry products that would apply to government purchase of goods and services and grant funded projects.
Based on the principle applied to the steel industry, the approach aims to give the local forestry and timber industry a competitive advantage. It would also help drive a stronger focus on local employment and workforce development, improving industry capability and capacity and importantly, retaining economic activity in the state.
SA-BEST also commits to stronger support to facilitate forestry supply-chain industry clusters to help drive collaboration between businesses, encourage modernisation, innovation and higher value-adding; and attract investment.
In addition, there is potential to further integrate forestry and nature-based tourism and recreation initiatives and exciting prospects in emerging industries such as bioenergy and biomaterials, which are not only good for our economy, but will contribute towards reducing our greenhouse emissions and increase our renewable, dispatchable energy mix.
As highlighted in our energy policy, SA-BEST wants to maximise local industry participation in renewable energy. We have opportunities to particularly encourage development and commercialisation of newer technologies.
To achieve this, we need to build our research, development and workforce capacity and support new, innovative approaches, particularly where they can achieve multiple benefits.
To help realise the opportunities our Forestry industry has, SA-BEST fully supports a second round of $2 million over four years to support the growth of the Mount Gambier National Institute for Forest Products Innovation hub.
A range of initiatives already announced through our agriculture and regions policies will also support forestry in this state, including SA-BEST’s commitment to:
- Continue support for the current ‘90-Day Change Project – Improving Road Transport for the Agriculture Industry’, recognising this initiative is making good progress in reducing the costs and red tape to access to other parts of the supply chain in an efficient manner.
- Explore funding and regulatory options to encourage alternate uses of agricultural waste products (including forestry waste streams)
- Establish a Royalties for Regions fund to leverage investment into new, catalytic infrastructure to help grow our regions and activate local economies.
- Establish a $15 million Regional Entrepreneurs Programme to encourage new businesses to start-up in regional areas.
- Increasing the Departmental budget for rural road maintenance.
- Reviewing the NRM funding and delivery model to return the focus to local, on ground action.
- Increase Regional Telecommunications funding to $30 million to leverage Federal and private investment into mobile phone, internet and internet blackspots.
- Develop tertiary education study hubs that integrate university and vocational education pathways, tailored to meet the needs of local industry and communities.
- Return Service Delivery, Policy and Decision Making to the Regions