M'boro timber workers set to rally against proposed changes
FEARS for the future of Queensland's timber industry have pushed Maryborough workers to rally against proposed government changes.
DTM Timber workers will join the Granville rally on August 18, targeting what organiser Sam Slack from Slacks Hardwood called "very regressive" proposed State Government reforms to the Code of Practice for Native Forest Management.
A statement from the Private Forestry Service Queensland said the loss of a further 60 000m³ from private native forests on top of the 40 000 m³ from State forests would result in the closure of at least 20 of the 40 existing mills in southern Queensland.
The rally will be held at Granville Soccer Club in Banana St between 11.30am and 2.30pm.
Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy Dr Anthony Lynham said any conclusions drawn at this stage were premature.
"The State Government is reviewing the code and will be seeking feedback on a draft in the second half of 2019," he said.
"While respecting industry I will have a strong view on this. I am disappointed they have chosen to put the cart before the horse by venting their anger publicly on a self-accessible code that has not yet been finalised."
Mr Lynham said some of the goals of the review included preventing loss of biodiversity and maintaining land and water values.
It comes as Wide Bay MP Llew O'Brien has accused the State Government of "killing the industry" by "dragging its feet on forestry agreements".
But Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner hit back, saying the LNP Opposition did not even have a policy in place in regards to the issue.
Last week Mr O'Brien and Queensland Shadow Agriculture Minister Tony Perrett met with Hyne Timber executive director James Hyne to see the workings of the mill, which employs about 350 staff and contractors in Maryborough.
Mr O'Brien said the Coalition Government had committed almost $2 million into boosting Wide Bay's timber industry since 2016, but delays by the State Government were putting jobs at risk.
"Hyne is one of Maryborough's biggest employers, and the Coalition Government recognises the value that the timber industry brings to Wide Bay and to Queensland," he said.
Mr Perrett said access to timber resources on State-owned land would be limited from 2024, and that deadline was fast approaching with no solution in sight.
"This is causing a lot of uncertainty and great concern in the timber industry throughout Queensland," he said.
"The industry will collapse unless the Labor State Government gets into gear and makes a decision on new forestry agreements."
Mr Furner said the State Government had invested directly into the Wide Bay timber industry to allow greater innovation and investment.
"Our government sees the global potential of Hyne Timber, which is why we're supporting the development of their new $20 million facility through our $150 million Jobs and Regional Growth Fund," he said.
"The government is developing a timber supply policy and will consult with industry as part of this process."