The Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) welcomes the Labor Party’s inclusion of forest industries in its industry strategy, which aims to grow the food and fibre manufacturing industries of Australia, Chief Executive Officer of AFPA, Mr Ross Hampton said.

The Federal Opposition yesterday announced a $25 million food and fibre industry strategy, including the establishment of an Innovation Council, which aims to drive local jobs and innovation, and attract investment in manufacturing, particularly in rural and regional areas.

“Australia’s renewable forest industries represent the fifth biggest manufacturing sector in Australia, employing 120,000 across the full value chain and injecting $24 billion annually into the economy,” Mr Hampton said.

“Accordingly, our timber, pulp and paper manufacturers should be foremost in Labor’s thinking and consultation as it develops the detail of these policies, and we would expect to have strong representation on Labor’s proposed Innovation Council should it form Government after the election.

“Labor’s recent commitment to remove restrictions that currently exclude plantation and farm forestry from the carbon market has the potential to drive the necessary increase in Australia’s plantation estate to secure the future resource of many forest products manufacturers, and we look forward to seeing the detail of that commitment.

“Yesterday AFPA launched the forest industries’ ten-point plan for growth, which offers the promise of 20,000 more jobs in Australia’s ‘ultimate renewable’ industry. Key in those policy requests are removing barriers to the establishment of new plantations, no more loss of resource for our sustainable native forest industries, renewing investment in research and development and kickstarting the bio-economy,” Mr Hampton concluded.