18 November 2019
Australian Government Assistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries, Senator the Hon. Jonathon Duniam, and state ministers and senior officials responsible for forestry met in Adelaide today, for the seventh Forestry Ministers Meeting.
The meeting was hosted by the Hon. Tim Whetstone MP, South Australian Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development.
Ministers considered a range of issues facing Australia's forest industries and how governments could continue to support the sector.
The need to increase wood supply for Australia's needs into the future was discussed, with ministers noting the Australian Government's commitment to support the planting of a billion new plantation trees by providing plantation development concessional loans. Ministers also discussed factors that should be considered to support plantation expansion and agreed that the relaxation of the water rule in the ERF is needed for the expansion of the plantation estate in Australia.
Ministers also discussed the development of a national farm forestry strategy as another means of helping expand Australia's wood supply. Ministers noted that benefits can accrue to farmers by providing additional revenue from timber and carbon storage, and by providing on-farm benefits.
Concern was expressed that forestry workers and businesses were often subjected to protests, intimidation and harassment. Ministers supported the right of people to go about their lawful activities without such interference. Commonwealth and state legislation that provides protection to forestry activities being undertaken on both public and private land was discussed.
An update was provided on the implementation of the Australian Government's National Forest Industries Plan, including the establishment of Regional Forestry Hubs and the National Institute for Forest Products Innovation.
Ministers reiterated their support for Australia's forest industries, based on sustainable management of Australia's native forests and plantations, noting that there remains strong and growing markets for forest products. Ministers agreed that more work needs to be done in raising the community's awareness of the sustainability of Australian forest management. Ministers recognised the significant contribution that the sector makes to Australia's jobs, economy and wellbeing, and its importance to the environment.
Ministers noted that many parts of Australia have already experienced devastating bushfires during the current fire season, and expressed their sympathy to affected communities and individuals.