Tasmania’s forest industries need Federal Government commitments to support strategic growth, innovation and infrastructure needs ahead of the Federal Election. The Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) and the Forest Industries Association of Tasmania (FIAT) are calling on federal political parties in Tasmania to commit to delivering:

• $35 million of federal funding over three years (matching funding to be sought from the Tasmanian Government if the federal commitment is made) for road and rail infrastructure projects recommended in the Rolley report to the Tasmanian Government.
• $1 million over 4 years for a South East Tasmania Regional Forestry Hub.
• $8 million over 4 years of Federal Government funding to secure the future of Launceston’s National Institute for Forest Products Innovation (NIFPI).

Former Forestry Tasmania Chief, Evan Rolley conducted his report for the Tasmanian Government after being commissioned by Minister Hon. Guy Barnett. A key project is the Plenty Link Road upgrade and related rail infrastructure which would efficiently transport forest products between the Huon and Derwent Valleys, providing links to northern Ports. This road and rail upgrade would streamline log haulage activities and provide significant local and environmental benefits. These measures are aimed at reducing heavy freight from public roads, in particular the Huon Highway, Macquarie Street and the Brooker Highway, and would be beneficial to the value of forest resource processing opportunities from the Southern Tasmania Forest Region.

The Federal Government has committed $1 million for a Regional Forest Industry Hub in Tasmania’s North/North-West. The State’s South-East is home to a strong forestry industry which is a hub in its own right. AFPA and FIAT are calling for $1 million in Federal Government funding to support the strategic planning needed to maximise the Southern Region hub’s potential, mirroring the commitment to the Northern Hub. The Rolley report also recommends that there should be a “Southern Hub” under the Federal Government’s National Forest Industries Plan, taking in the Boyer/New Norfolk and Brighton regions.

The NIFPI centre in Launceston has been successful in kickstarting almost $10 million in research projects from the $4 million in Government funding. After two rounds, research grant funding has now been exhausted, and the centre needs extended Federal Government funding (matching funding to be sought from the Tasmanian Government, if federal commitment made) to continue to foster forestry research projects for years to come. AFPA and FIAT are seeking $8 million over 4 years for Launceston’s NIFPI.