Declining numbers of softwood, hardwood sawmills in Australia is result of years of policy neglect by previous government, claims senator, says current administration's policies seek to support sustainable long-term future for industry

CANBERRA, Australia , July 8, 2014 (press release) – The changing shape of Australia’s wood processing sector shows the industry has undergone significant change and consolidation as a result of successive years of policy neglect, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, Senator Richard Colbeck said.

Senator Colbeck made the comments following the release of the National Wood Processing Survey 2012-13 by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES).

He said the ABARES survey identified significant falls in the number of both hardwood and softwood mills and decreases in the volume of hardwood and softwood logs harvested since the 2006-07 survey.

“The forestry industry was neglected under the previous Labor/Green Government and we are getting on with the job of fixing their mess,” he said.

“The Coalition recognises the importance of the forestry and wood processing industry and is supporting the industry through sensible policies for a sustainable long term future.”

“We are honouring our commitment to encourage investment and innovation in our agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors by providing $100 million in new funding for rural research and development, specifically to support continued innovation.”

“Forest and Wood Products Australia also receives $2.68 million in funding for research and development to support the forest industry.”

Senator Colbeck said it was encouraging ABARES found a majority of wood processing facilities remain Australian owned and operated but we must not discount the benefits from overseas investors interested in helping to reinvigorate the forestry industry.

“We must recognise that the value of this industry is not limited to its contribution to Australia’s gross value of production, but extends to the people, families and communities who rely on the forest industry for their livelihoods,” he said.

“I am confident that our vision for a strong and sustainable future will be delivered with help from the industry.”

The National Wood Processing Survey 2012-13 is produced by ABARES and jointly funded with Forest and Wood Products Australia.

The full report is available on the ABARES website at

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