The supply chain inquiry releases its final report.
After opening on 11 June 2020, receiving 31 submissions (including from Industry Associations MGA TMA and AFPA) and conducting five Public Hearings (a mix of live and virtual, thanks to Covid restrictions), the Australian Parliament’s Agriculture and Water Resources Committee has published its report Aussie logs for Aussie jobs: inquiry into timber supply chain constraints in the Australian plantation sector.
Opened after the impact of the Black Summer Fires on already problematic timber supply the Committee’s inquiry “considered challenges preventing growth in Australia’s timber industry and investigated potential solutions to current issues”.
While urging the adoption of plans for a concessional loan scheme for the establishment of new timber plantations and welcoming the establishment of Regional Forestry Hubs, the report also notes there’s been no significant expansion in the Australian plantation estate for a decade, while meeting the projected supply shortfalls will require the establishment of 200,000 to 250,000 hectares of new softwood plantations. The report attempts to provide a map to achieving that.
The Committee Chair, Rick Wilson MP, noted the ongoing decline in the extent of the domestic plantation estate, and stated that: “more needs to be done if the timber industry is to flourish into the future.
“From greater investment in forestry research and development capabilities, farm forestry, and the exciting new possibilities presented by carbon storage initiatives, the industry is ripe for innovation and growth. With the appropriate policy settings, the plantation industry may once again have the potential to expand, and indeed thrive.”
Wilson also highlighted the importance of encouraging greater transparency in softwood pricing. The Committee recommended the Australian Government support stakeholders to develop a voluntary code of conduct for the timber industry to facilitate long-term supply contracts between producers and processors for the mutual benefit of both.
Wilson said, “It is anticipated that such an arrangement would better support the growth of an efficient domestic processing sector, while reducing the risks associated with reliance on export markets for plantation owners.”
Download the Committee’s report from the right hand panel at www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/House/Standing_Committee_on_Agriculture_and_Water_Resources/Timbersupply