South West MLC Diane Evers has slammed the McGowan Government’s claim the WA native logging industry has “sustainability credentials” after it was announced an interstate company had purchased two disgraced South West mills.
The sale of Auswest Timbers’ Greenbushes mill and Nannup Timber Processing to Queensland-based company Parkside Timber has come after scandals at both mills in 2019, with the state’s two largest timber processing facilities under fire for accusations of wastage, ongoing investigations and one confirmed breach of contract.
Ms Evers, The Greens (WA) spokesperson for forests, said it was clear native timber logging had lost its social licence, with the Forests Products Commission (FPC) unable to prevent the industry from operating within existing regulations. She also drew contrast to the Victorian Labor Government, who recently announced a transition plan to end native logging in the state.
Ms Evers contested statements attributed to a media release from Forestry Minister Dave Kelly, which proclaimed the strength of WA’s forestry industry, and said FPC’s own reporting of the industry’s health contradicted the Minister’s spin. The media release pointed to a forestry industry that supports more than 6,000 jobs, despite the native forest sector directly employing less than 500 people according to a 2017 FPC-funded report — many of those in transport roles only.
Recent annual report figures also revealed it costs more money to log WA native forests than is made in return, with an accounting write-down of $134 million to the value of these forests made as an amendment to the 17/18 financial year, avoiding an enormous current-year deficit.
QUOTES ATTRIBUTED TO DIANE EVERS MLC:
“I am shocked and appalled that the McGowan Government would claim ‘sustainability’ and champion the sale of two saw mills that have contributed to the wanton destruction of our precious native forests.
“The economics of this industry do not stack up.
“This move lacks evidence and — more critically — common sense.
“At a time when Federal Labor Opposition is shamelessly attacking The Greens on climate, it is remarkable that this announcement can occur without irony.
“On one hand we are seeing the daily impacts of climate change, knowing that native forests play a critical role in the battle to preserve our environment, as well as protecting endangered native animal species and biodiversity.
“On the other hand, perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised, given this Government’s commitment to keeping its head in the sand on issues of ecological importance — with the environmental vandals in the Liquefied Natural Gas industry benefitting greatly in this regard.
“This is a missed opportunity for the McGowan Government to cancel these existing bad contracts and sensibly transition the WA forestry industry to a socially accepted, sustainable model focussed on plantation timber, something Victorian Labor had the sense to realise.
“Native forests are placed at catastrophic risk when there is a push for more logging and emphasis on selling timber overseas, especially if the Perth market can’t take it all up.
“Log sizes are ever-decreasing, there are ongoing investigations into the Nannup facility and — when over-stocked — we have seen high value timber sold for low-value use as charcoal.
“However, you can be certain the Government needs these businesses to remain viable in order to be able to proffer ‘more jobs’ to voters — even when the truth is that native forests are more valuable left standing.
GET IN TOUCH:
Hon. Diane Evers
MLC for South West
(08) 9486 8070