It is a great privilege to take the reins of the Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA).
I am very conscious I have very big shoes to fill following Ross Hampton, who has been a giant of our sector. But I love a challenge.
Over the past decade, with the support of Australia’s forest industries and the team he assembled, Ross built an effective advocacy organisation that has helped raise the profile of a sector critical to the Australian economy, but one which is too often underappreciated. I look forward to building on the momentum Ross and the team have built.
My interest in the forestry sector value chain began nearly 20 years ago when I spent some time serving as Shadow Minister. Since then, I have served as Forestry Minister, Shadow Minister and convenor of the Parliament’s Forestry Friendship Group.
As a regional resident, I have always had an interest in regional policy and regional jobs. Forestry, of course, is a big regional employer and a key driver of regional economic activity. Thus, my ongoing love for the sector. Post-politics, I was always going to gravitate to the sector.
At the 2022 federal election, AFPA secured a $300 million package of funding and other policy commitments from the Albanese government to better forest industries. The package rollout – which now includes the development of the $100 million National Institute for Forest Products Innovation (NIFPI), removal of the Emissions Reduction Fund ‘water rule’ in the remaining Forest Industry Hubs, $113 million for timber innovation grants, a commitment to secure one billion new trees by 2030 and certainty for native forestry with support for the RFA process, among other commitments – is under way.
My big priority for 2023 is ensuring the timely and full delivery of the government’s commitments. Working closely with relevant ministers and federal government departments comes easily to me and that engagement will be the key to achieving our aims.
Climate change is another key priority. The government can’t meet its carbon reduction targets without us. That is the simple proposition AFPA will be pressing with the Prime Minister and his ministers. We are here to help.
Another key government focus is sovereign capability. AFPA will work hard to highlight the importance of our sector and the need to secure our resource supply. Our whole value chain is critical to Australia’s economic independence.
I look forward to working with the industry, governments and other stakeholders to positively progress Australia’s forest industries supply chain and the people who make it great.