Squabbling Tasmanian lawmakers put at risk AU$100M funding commitment enshrined in forest peace deal; state's deputy premier says federal money vital to build post-forestry economic future for timber communities, not aimed at shutting industry down

Audrey Dixon

Audrey Dixon

Aug 12, 2013 – Sunday Tasmanian

HOBART, Australia , August 11, 2013 () – THIS is the $420 million the Tasmanian Forestry Agreement could deliver to Tasmania.

As the fate of the final $100 million hangs in the balance, Deputy Premier Bryan Green has launched a blistering attack on his Liberal Party opponents, describing their plans to thwart the deal as the ``biggest act of political bastardry in Tasmania's history''.

The Liberals, for their part, say they will do nothing to stop the cash from flowing, saying it is only Labor that has made the funding conditional.

Money promised by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd last month is contingent on the state's Upper House giving its final blessing to the forest peace deal.

The ongoing crisis in forestry has caused the state's biggest company Gunns to go belly up and Forestry Tasmania to teeter on the brink of insolvency.

Mr Green said the federal money was vital to building a post-forestry economic future for timber communities.

``Funding from the Tasmanian Forest Agreement is extremely important for Tasmania's economy and the people who have been impacted by the downturn in the forest industry,'' he said.

``The TFA is about helping the industry to restructure, for businesses to transition and to support forestry workers and communities through these difficult times.''

Mr Green has hotly denied repeated accusations from the State Opposition that the money is payment to shut the forest industry down.

``The Liberals have the one-liners and policy slogans but no answers. It is the Liberals who pose the biggest threat to the forest industry and money flowing from the TFA,'' Mr Green said.

``If the Liberals succeed, it would be the biggest act of political bastardry in Tasmania's history.''

The state Liberal Party has long vowed to tear up the forest peace deal should it win office at the next state election, expected in March next year.

That pledge would mean that forests placed in reserves would again be open for logging.

Liberal MP Peter Gutwein condemned the conditional nature of the forestry funding.

``Tasmania deserves its fair share of regional development money to grow industries across the state,'' he said.

``This money should not be linked to shutting down forestry.

``We don't support paying to shut down the forestry industry, close businesses and buy out jobs.''

Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott told ABC radio the forestry funds would still flow if the Liberals won the federal election.

``What I said was that I was not going to begrudge hard-pressed businesses the federal grant that they were recently given by Mr Rudd,'' he said.

``I also said that as far as I am concerned, Commonwealth money spent in Tasmania should be to keep industries going and to boost industries, not to close them down.

``But those grants that were announced by the Commonwealth a few weeks ago, they will be honoured.''



The Intergovernmental Forestry Agreement will deliver up to $420 million to Tasmania.

Here is how the money is being spent:

* Economic diversification package (see details below): $127m

* Employment and training support for affected workers: up to $25m

* Mental health counselling for affected forestry workers and their families: $2m

* Buyback of contracts for peeler billets from Ta Ann: $26m

* Tasmanian native forests high quality sawlog buyback program: up to $15m

* Tasmanian regional sawmiller structural adjustment grants program: $10m

* Transitional support for affected workers and support for harvest haulage and silviculture contractor business exits: $20m.

* Sustainable solutions for more efficient use of harvesting and processing residues: $13m

* Rescheduled harvesting: $14.4m.

* Manufacturing innovation and plantation management: $8m.

* Plantation manufacturing innovation and investment: $16m.

* Support for reserve management: $32m

* World Heritage planning: $2m

* Special council, communications, FSC certification: $7m.

* Transition support payments (Forest Works Pty Ltd): $15m.

* Voluntary Contractor exits: $45m.

* Implementation of the IGA: $28m

* Transitional funding: $15m.

The $127 million in funding for an Economic Diversification Package for Tasmania includes: INITIAL REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT AUSTRALIA PROJECTS (announced in 2012)

* $1.5m funding to extend and upgrade electrical infrastructure along Harcus River Rd, Circular Head, to support the local dairy industry by allowing for the conversion of land from lower-value beef production to higher-value dairy production.

* $4.25m funding to establish the new Agritas Trade College at Smithton, providing industry-specific skills training to support growth in Tasmania's dairy industry.

* $3.92m funding for infrastructure in the D'Entrecasteaux Channel to facilitate expansion and further development in the sea-farmed salmon industry.

* $3.6m funding to support the establishment of SenseT, a world leading sensor and knowledge management network to drive economic, social and environmental benefits for Tasmania.

* $1.6m funding to upgrade the Maria Island Jetty and for a feasibility study exploring the potential for increased visitor numbers and visitor-spend on the East Coast of Tasmania.

* $400,000 funding for research to support identification of optimal frost-free sites for cool-climate wine production, and for the provision of development and extension services.

* $300,000 funding to support development of a soft fruit chilling and snap freezing facility to improve cool chain management in the Derwent Valley.

* $150,000 funding towards the development of a detailed business plan for innovative food systems research and training in the North of Tasmania, and a feasibility study for a food processing, research and testing facility at Scottsdale.

* $76,000 funding to assist a study assessing the potential for a collaborative business model to improve productivity and competitiveness of six regional sawmills.

* $200,000 funding to explore economic and environmental options for an all-season, multi-day ecotourism walk from Mount Wellington to Western Tasmania World Heritage Areas.

TASMANIAN INNOVATION AND INVESTMENT FUND (Initial $8m of projects announced in March 2012)

* $107,690 to AB Engineering (Tas) Pty Ltd to purchase and install equipment in a workshop that maintains liquefied natural gas (LNG) on heavy trucks.

* $495,000 to Abalone Farms Australia Pty Ltd to re-establish and revitalise the Bicheno abalone farm operation.

* $69,190 to AJL Heavy Equipment Pty Ltd to further develop the East Devonport shipping container depot.

* $55,000 to Biocontrol Australia Pty Ltd to expand the plant and purchase new equipment to increase production of biopesticide and eliminate current bottlenecks in production.

* $316,258 to Bison Construction for construction of a fully integrated factory which will allow for the efficient movement of materials through the design, manufacture and dispatch process.

* $678,040 to Britton Brothers Pty Ltd for increased productivity and plant expansion project that includes the purchase and installation of a new log processing system.

* $87,293 to Burnie Print And Design for the purchase of new digital equipment and remodelling the workplace and retail areas.

* $184,067 to Coastal Engineering and Belting Pty Ltd for the development of heavy fabrication capacity by the installation of new equipment.

* $76,336 to Dovetail Timbers Pty Ltd to develop Dovetail Timbers production line for producing dovetail-jointed prefabricated kit-homes, raised garden beds and other timber products.

* $440,000 to Flowerdale Flowers (Tas) Pty Ltd for the construction of a new glasshouse complex to assist the increase in flower production.

* $218,625 to Harvest Moon for the acquisition of a new self-propelled celery harvesting and packing facility. This facility will increase celery production.

* $440,000 to Huon Valley Seafoods Pty Ltd for the expansion of Huon Valley seafood processing, blast freezing and packing facility.

* $55,000 to McKee - Co General Engineering Pty Ltd for the purchase of new equipment to produce densifi ed biomass pellets from dried timber residues for domestic heating.

* $770,000 to National Pies Pty Ltd to increase production capabilities by 80 per cent by expanding current facilities and the purchase of new technologically advanced equipment.

* $506,000 to Pennicott Wilderness Journeys Pty Ltd to purchase a new craft to expand the Bruny lsland specialised tours.

* $808,131 to Priority Supplies for production expansion to increase manufacturing of industrial safety products including storage cabinets for corrosive material, spill response products, and emergency decontamination equipment.

* $136,084 to Roadside Products Pty Ltd for the purchase, installation and commissioning of a 120 litre blow moulding system to increase production to meet market demand.

* $274,956 to S E R S Sheetmetal Works, for the construction of a new workshop facility to allow continued production growth and supply material for new identifi ed markets.

* $449,350 to Seafi sh Tasmania Pty Ltd, for the construction of a plant and processing lines that will add value to Tasmanian Atlantic Salmon waste.

* $123,896 to Sewell Sweepers for investment in plant and equipment to meet the accelerated market demand of the Sewell Sweepers products.

* $55,000 to Southern Bulbs Pty Ltd for the purchase of an Aqua Grader to expand production - a Dutch innovation for washing, grading and processing fl ower bulbs.

* $132,000 to Spreyton Fresh Pty Ltd for the development of a cider brewing facility and the establishment of orchard tour.

* $73,272 to Spring Bay Seafoods Pty Ltd to establish expanded hatchery production capacity of pre-nursery size oysters to satisfy increased market demand and improve industry reliability of supply.

* $353,650 to Tas Fab Pty Ltd for the expansion of workshop and installation of equipment to increase the company's capacity and services.

* $770,000 to Tassal Operations Pty Ltd to expand the capacity of the packing line at the Margate Salmon packing plant.

* $57,063 to Tas-Span Pty Ltd for the Acquisition of an under bridge and marine inspection unit to expand Tas-Span capabilities.

* $143,000 to the Maclaine Family Trust to establish a sawmilling facility to process regrowth and plantation sawlog.

* $462,000 to TPI Enterprises Ltd for the purchase of new equipment and the redevelopment of the existing plant to allow for an expansion into a new product range.

Additional funding of $10 million over four years was announced on 25 July 2013 for further rounds of the Tasmanian Government Industry Innovation Fund to continue to provide Tasmanian industry with access to grants funds to support innovation, expansion and jobs growth.

In addition, a further $1 million was announced to top up the Tasmanian Government Industry Innovation Fund to immediately deliver additional high quality projects that could not be funded in the first round of the program.

In addition, in accordance with the Tasmanian Forest Agreement, $2 million has been committed for the development of a Special Species Timber Management Plan.

Further projects announced on July 25, 2013 under the economic diversification package:


* Tasmanian Pickled Onions Pty Ltd, pickled onion production facility: $500,000

* Costa Exchange Pty Ltd, Modified Atmosphere Packaging facility to service the berry and stone fruit sectors: $1m

* Britton Timbers processing expansion: $1.19m

* Haulmax, advanced manufacturing business for the North West region: $3m

* Huon Aquaculture, construct processing facility at Parramatta Creek: $3.5m

* Caterpillar Elphinstone, advanced manufacturing development: $5m

* Circular Head Council and TasGas, gas extension to Smithton: $6m

* Tas Irrigation, Dial Blythe Irrigation Scheme $9.06m

* SFM Forest Management, Hydrowood: $5m

* Tasmanian Wood Panels, energy reduction project and reopen particle board plant: $1.305m

* Ta Ann, plywood mill: $7.5m NORTH

* Dorset Economic Development Group, three-phase power for dairy conversion - initial studies: $100,000

* North East Marine Engineering, dry dock facility: $700,000

* Dorset Renewable Industries Pty Ltd, integrated timber processing facility in North East Tasmania: $2.8m

* Launceston City Council, North Bank Precinct Redevelopment: $3m

* Macquarie House Catalyst Project: $3m

* Hugh Mackinnon, strawberry production site: $400,000

* Fly Fishing Museum: $261,000 SOUTH

* Hobart City Council, South Hobart Community Hub: $1.65m

* Guilford Young College, Glenorchy Creative Arts Link Building: $3.5m

* Derwent Valley Council, Plenty Link Rd: $100,000

* Juicy Isle, expansion to support contract packing and infrastructure investment to support increased production of organic fruit juice: $1.25m

* Reid Fruits, cherry packhouse development: $500,000

* Tassal, Tasmanian fish protein and oil facility Triabunna: $3.85m

* Elphinstone and Tasrail, Triabunna Manufacturing Jobs Initiative - 'Tasrailer' container frames: $1m

* Clarence City Council, Kangaroo Bay Community and Economic Development Project: $5m

* Oak Tasmania - Oakdale Industries, Hardlam - timber lamination production facility: $4m


A $4.5m Tourism Package including:

* $4.38m for the Regional Tourism Infrastructure and Innovation Fund.

* $120,000 for the Tasmanian Whisky Trail and Tasmanian Cider Trail.

* Dairy Tas, Into dairy - sustainable dairy development: $400,000

* UTAS, SenseT Stage 2 development: $10m
(c) 2013 News Limited

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