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ACT Government needs to urgently make forest industries ‘essential’ or risk taking food from the shelves

The Australian Forest products Association (AFPA) urges the ACT Government to urgently revert to the nationally agreed essential industry status for forest industries or risk undermining access to food on supermarket shelves for Canberrans.

Chief Executive officer of AFPA Ross Hampton said, “In the understandable rush to protect Canberrans from the highly contagious Delta variant, the ACT Government has left forestry and sawmills off the list of essential industries which are allowed to operate.

“To the lay person this may seem appropriate. However, what most don’t realise is that most of the cardboard packaging which contains the food in our supermarkets is produced by our paper mills which need the residues from sawmilling operations. And for the sawmills to operate they need sustainably harvested trees, like those in the ACT Government’s pine plantations.

“Even the pallets which go under the boxes to allow the supermarkets to move the food from the trucks into the supermarkets are made from timber. And then there’s all the vital everyday items such as toilet paper and tissues. All these things require forestry to continue.

AFPA has been explaining this to every state for the last year as authorities sought to make the best decisions possible regarding lockdowns. Every jurisdiction has been persuaded that, as long as all the very exact precautions are taken regarding social distancing, masks and cleaning are in place, forest industries are indeed essential.

“Our hope is the ACT Government quickly understands this and updates its guidelines consistent with every other jurisdiction,” Mr Hampton concluded.

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