Tassie Labor Backs Log Supply: Strongest ALP Forestry Pledge

At a time when the Australian Labor Party remains bitterly divided over native hardwoods, Tasmanian Labor is going "all in" on local jobs.

Wed 06 Mar 24


Just weeks out from the Tasmanian Election, Opposition Leader Rebecca White has followed Premier Jeremey Rockliff’s lead and has committed to extend all wood supply agreements from 2027 to 2040.

“Labor has listened to the timber industry and worked very closely with them over the past few years, and this policy reflects our dedication to work together to secure a sustainable future for the industry,” Tasmanian Labor Leader Rebecca White said yesterday.

Before adding that “the timber industry is a vital part of the Tasmanian economy and crucial to regional Tasmania” and that “a Labor Government that (Opposition Leader, White) leads will put Tasmanian timber workers and companies first, not mainland companies.”

The pledge is the strongest made by a Labor Party leader in favour of the industry and comes as the Party (which holds the Federal Government and Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia) remains bitterly divided over the native forest question.

The Tasmanian Forest Wars have escalated into a political football in recent weeks after Premier Rockliff, who leads narrowly in the polls, vowed to extend logging concessions with a further 40,000 hectares of forests being added to commercial harvesting.

Australia's largest construction and manufacturing union, representing 120,000 workers, has accused the Tasmanian Premier of treating thousands of Tasmanian timber workers as a "political football". (Photo Credit: Matt Hrkac via Wikimedia Commons, shared under Creative Commons licence)
Australia’s largest construction and manufacturing union, representing 120,000 workers, has accused the Tasmanian Premier of treating thousands of Tasmanian timber workers as a “political football”. (Photo Credit: Matt Hrkac via Wikimedia Commons, shared under Creative Commons licence)

It led Michael O’Connor – the National Secretary of the CFMEU Manufacturing Division – who is the vice-chair of the Australian Government’s Strategic Forests and Renewable Partnership Group and director of Responsible Wood (the Australian Forestry Standard), to slam the Premier for “playing politics with Tassie jobs.”

According to the Tasmanian Shadow Resources Minister, Shane Broad, “for the last ten years, the government have taken the timber industry for granted by using them as a political football while failing to address their growing concerns about resource security and transparency.”

 “Labor will ensure that contracts are extended out to 2040 and include plantation sawlogs, special species are managed independently and that a 25 per cent local benefits test applies to logging and haulage contracts,” in what is a broad shot at the Tasmanian Government over it’s handling of Victorian contractors operating in the island state.

Tasmanian Resources Minister Felix Ellis did not engage with the Mona Economics Congress. (Photo Credit: Supplied by Felix Ellis Office)
The Labor opposition has levelled criticism at Tasmanian Resources Minister Felix Ellis, who said that the incumbent government had not prioritised local companies with resource availability. (Photo Credit: Supplied by Felix Ellis Office)

In a media statement attributed to Opposition Leader and Shadow Resources Minister, Ms White and Mr Broad have pledged to:

  • STOP the current plantation sawlog Expression of Interest process being conducted by Sustainable Timbers Tasmania (STT), which could see mills starved of logs, workers thrown on the scrap heap and more logs exported out of Tasmania.
  • REVIEW the available resources – native forest and plantation – in an open and transparent process with independent oversight.
  • PROTECT existing Tasmanian businesses and their workers to ensure they have the highest priority in obtaining long-term secure contracts for wood supply. No sawlog or peelers will be exported in whole log form if they can be processed in Tasmania.
  • DEVELOP a framework for prioritising access to STT’s wood supply capacity that is in the best interests of the State with a particular reference to regional Tasmania.
  • PROVIDE confidence to existing STT customers by allowing them to negotiate enforceable contracts on commercial terms for their existing volumes, as a minimum, until 2040.
  • ENFORCE the local benefits, which weigh 25%, so Tasmanian contractors get a fair go.
  • ENSURE the future of the special species sector by creating a standalone Special Timbers Authority tasked with managing all aspects of non-blackwood special species timber supply and management.
  • ESTABLISH an independent Forest Products Price Oversight Body to ensure Tasmanians obtain a fair price for their resources.
  • ALLOCATE $5 million towards developing new ways to process logs on-island.
  • PROVIDE $350,000 for a heli-harvesting trial of dead Huon pine.
  • COMMIT to funding the Tasmanian Timber Promotion Board in future Budgets.
  • COMMIT to include private forest estate owners in the TasGRN rollout.
  • REWRITE the STT Ministerial Charter to reflect our Tasmania First Timber Policy

It comes as Wood Centrla revealed on Monday that right-wing aligned powerbrokers in the Tasmanian Labor Party are pushing for the party “to do away” with a policy that required the government-controlled Sustainable Timber Tasmania to seek FSC certification. 

In 2019, FSC Australia and New Zealand’s current chair Jon Dee, a vocal critic of native forestry, visited the Central Highlands, Victoria to show you why the FSC symbol is so important. Footage courtesy of @dosomethingnearyou.

According to the document, obtained exclusively by The Australian’s Tasmanian Correspondent, Matthew Denholm, “the review needs to consider whether the demands being placed on Sustainable Timbers Tasmania by FSC are worth the benefits of access to markets, and to what extent we can convince these markets to recognise and accept the merits of (existing) ­Responsible Wood certification.”

However, on Tuesday, Mr Broad confirmed that Tasmanian Labor would “continue to pursue FSC but did not view the stamp of approval as “essential”.


  • Jason Ross

    Jason Ross, publisher, is a 15-year professional in building and construction, connecting with more than 400 specifiers. A Gottstein Fellowship recipient, he is passionate about growing the market for wood-based information. Jason is Wood Central's in-house emcee and is available for corporate host and MC services.


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