Ex-Minister New Chair of Tasmania’s Forest Products Association

Tasmania's new Labor leader, Dean Winter, has pledged to find a bipartisan way to boost Tasmania's native forest and timber production industry.

Fri 19 Apr 24


A former Tasmanian Liberal MP, who for a time was the state’s Educational Minister, has been appointed as Chair of Tasmania’s peak body for forestry – the Tasmanian Forest Products Association (TFPA).

Sarah Courtney, a lower-house member under the Hodgman and Gutwein Liberal governments, resigned in 2022 for family reasons. She will now replace Bryan Hayes, who retired as permanent chair of the TFPA last year. On the appointment, she said:

“I’m excited to be able to assist these great Tasmanian businesses continue to grow our economy and our communities.” Before adding, “Tasmania’s forestry industry employs more than 5,500 people across the state, is a key driver in the Tasmanian economy and is integral in meeting Tasmania’s bold climate change goals.”

According to acting TFPA Chair Shawn Britton, “Sarah has considerable experience, including in the areas of governance, management, agriculture, aquaculture, finance, stakeholder management, public policy, and small business. She’s ideally placed to continue our great work.”

Mr Britton added that in an industry traditionally dominated by males, “it’s pleasing we can now have a strong female voice representing our businesses…having her lead the association shows the modern forestry industry is shedding off the reputation of its past.”

The new appointment comes as Tasmanian Labor, the major Opposition Party, has vowed to support the newly re-elected Jeremy Rockliff-led Liberal Minority Government in “finding a bipartisan way to boost the Tasmanian forestry industry and head off a repeat of the forest wars.”

Tasmanian Labor, which trails narrowly in the polls, is taking a moderate-right wing policy on native forestry to the March 23, 2024 poll. (Photo Credit: Tasmanian Labor Party)
Tasmanian Labor took a moderate-right wing policy on native forestry to the March 2024 election (Photo Credit: Tasmanian Labor Party)

Newly elected Labor leader Dean Winter, who replaced Rebecca White after last month’s state election, said Labor was happy to work with the government to find a way ahead for the industry, which included boosting local producers.

“We need to ensure that industry has the confidence to go forward, and that’s why I’m making sure today that Tasmania and the forest industry know that Tasmanian Labor is strongly supporting the Tasmanian native forest sector and timber mills like this right across Tasmania,” he said.

“Our offer to the Tasmanian government and Jeremy Rockliff is that we are prepared to work in a bipartisan way on future timber supply.”

“We don’t want to see the Tasmanian forest wars start again—the last thing that the industry needs is for them to start again.”

Tasmanian Forest Products Association CEO Nick Steel said the industry wanted a nuanced approach instead of fresh conflict. “We now have two major parties supporting our industry, providing certainty and confidence for our industry going forward… we’ve certainly made our position clear regarding the future potential production forest land, we see it’s better to review that 356,000 hectares as a block, instead of just targeting the production forest, to consider what best land use that may be.”

“That may be for conservation, that could be in terms of Aboriginal management, or there could be opportunities for productive forestry.”


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