The WA Forest Products Commission will not issue any timber contracts from January 1, 2024, until an indeterminant time in the future.
This was revealed after questioning by the Leader of the Opposition, Mia Davies
To help the FPC get through this period, the Minister for Regional Development Don Punch, indicated that $11 million would be provided to help cover the FPC’s fixed costs. In addition, $24 million would be provided to help it with ecological thinning.
“It is a relief that government employees will have their wages paid while they wait for the new arrangements to be settled,” convenor of the Sustainable Forest Industries Roundtable David Utting said.
“But there is nothing for industry, or for small business; they will have to sit on their hands for six months or more and wait for the government to make up its mind,” he said.
“How are these businesses expected to stay afloat with no resource?”
The Minister for Forestry Jackie Jarvis has repeatedly promised that there would be a continuity of supply of wood from mine site clearing and from ecological thinning, but the budget hearing provides a different story. The disdain for small business is palpable, as once again no information has been provided to industry.
“It is a clear tactic to force businesses out of the sector,” David Utting said.
“It’s not only business that will suffer – products to consumers will become scarce.
“I am very concerned about people who rely on firewood for heating as it looks like next year will be worse than this year, if that’s possible.”
Mr Utting said the government should come clean and issue a timetable for people to work on.
“They need to show some respect for the remains of this industry which has supported the people of Western Australia for more than 150 years,” he said.