Lasting Wounds for Timber Industry After WA Native Forest Ban

Best advice from government: go look for a job

Fri 16 Jun 23


The WA government hopes to “salve industry wounds” by announcing $10 million in industry development grants to attract new industries and support expanding existing businesses in southwest timber regions.

Businesses, innovators, and organisations with planned, investment-ready projects have been encouraged to apply for matched funding grants of up to $2 million.

But the vexing issue in Western Australia, as in Victoria, is that there is no resource to build wood processing industries, either softwoods or hardwoods.

“There is also a lack of confidence in the government as a commercial operator,” says Gavin Butcher, whose career in plantation and native forest management spans more than 25 years.

“It has reneged on so many deals that timber harvest contractors in the state are walking away; they don’t want to take the risk of working with this government.”

Mr Butcher said small businesses dependent on timber were “treated like mushrooms”.

“It’s hard to see these businesses continuing, so these investment grants will need to be in non-resource opportunities such as tourism, agriculture or services.”

One of the industry’s saddest losses was the closure last year of Parkside Timber’s multi-million-dollar dry mill at Manjimup, followed by the loss of 45 jobs when the Queensland company closed its mill in the nearby town of Nannup.

Parkside Timber said it had decided because the mills were no longer viable after the government decided to shut down the industry.

Minister for Agriculture, Food, and Forestry Jackie Jarvis hoped former mill employees would find other work.

“They are on the ground in these towns and will be for many weeks to come,” she said.

“We know that the shire president was, until a couple of years ago, berating the state government about worker shortages,” Ms Jarvis said in an ABC interview.

“They have a more diversified economy; they have a big agriculture sector. I am hopeful those workers who have lost their jobs will be picked up by the local economy.


  • Wood Central

    Wood Central is Australia’s first and only dedicated platform covering wood-based media across all digital platforms. Our vision is to develop an integrated platform for media, events, education, and products that connect, inform, and inspire the people and organisations who work in and promote forestry, timber, and fibre.


Related Articles