On 12 September, Senator the Hon. Richard Colbeck, Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources (left), presented the National Forest Industry Plan, Growing a Better Australia, in an address at the National Press Club in Canberra.

Senator Colbeck has unique insight into our industry and the challenges we face. The Senator is a qualified carpenter, and until 1989 worked in the building industry before being elected to parliament. The Government is finally recognising forestry as an important industry that employs around 70,000 Australians, and tens of thousands more people in supporting jobs. The industry generates $23 billion of economic activity in Australia.

In setting out this vision, Senator Colbeck talked at length about our industry. One of the many issues our industry faces is ensuring the consistent supply of timber. The Senator’s announcement of the goal to plant one billion trees and to establish 400,000 hectares of new plantation over the next ten years is of vital significance for Australia. This provides us with greater confidence through the assurance of timber supply.

The Federal Government also recognises the importance of other timber products that will be generated under this plan, including engineered beams and CLT. Senator Colbeck highlighted the importance of planting the right trees, in the right place, with the right volume, to ensure economic stability. The Plan will also establish 30 regional areas as key hubs, vital for the creation of new jobs.

The Senator also talked about reducing the barriers to forestry expansion. Senator Colbeck noted that investment decisions are complex, and consideration of land price, long growth times, the water requirement and perceived climate risks restrict potential projects. The Senator recognised the importance of meeting future demands for timber. Planting new trees in commercial plantations will provide our industry with greater certainty.

Looking to the future, we can take heart that we have a carpenter in Parliament who is working with us to build the future of our industry.


This article was written by FTMA Australia Board Member, Arthur Potter (pictured right with Senator, the Hon. Richard Colbeck)