House debates

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Constituency Statements

Eden-Monaro Electorate: Forestry Industry

10:49 am

Photo of Mike KellyMike Kelly (Eden-Monaro, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Defence Industry and Support) Share this | | Hansard source

On Tuesday night I think we all enjoyed being together with the Parliamentary Friends of Forestry and Forest Products group for their Christmas drinks. I was particularly keen to attend that event—and I was able to catch up with wonderful friends there—because Eden-Monaro is one of the most important regions in the whole of this nation in relation to forestry, particularly the plantation industry. It was good to catch up with Bill Hurditch, an old friend of mine working in the forestry sector, to talk about the proposal for a South West Slopes regional forestry hub. The Softwoods Working Group have put a really worthwhile and impressive document together on seeking to establish that hub. My region is currently a massive plantation timber estate comprising 125,000 hectares, and it generates the largest socioeconomic presence of any softwood region in Australia. It's supporting 5,375 jobs directly in flow-on and is contributing, in gross economic terms, over $2 billion per year. Obviously, this would be a very important project. We need to expand our timber resources. We need to give our farmers the ability to diversify their incomes.

When Labor introduced the Carbon Farming Initiative under our previous climate change plans and the Clean Energy Future package, it provided the economic dynamic that was going to drive investment in this kind of carbon sequestration, which would then enable people who invest in forests to not only earn money at the 10- to 25-year mark but earn money throughout their lives from those forests. We were going to enable farmers to get together and aggregate to give the scale that's necessary and have brokers work for them to make the arrangements. Some of that is happening at a micro-level at the moment. I met a farmer in Bombala the other day who's done a deal with the ANWE chip mill to plant forestry on his property and participate in that enterprise. Not only is this a way to go forward on sequestering carbon and contributing to our battle against climate change but it's generating thousands of jobs, it's great for the economy and it gives me the way forward to gradually wean our chip mill in Eden off native forest logging and on to pure plantation. I think they're hovering at around the 40 per cent mark on plantation resources. We have the scope within our region to expand our resource to enable that transition to happen completely and then use our native forests for ecotourism and carbon sequestration. Labor did a great job in government at enabling the metrics to be placed around forests to bring them into emissions trading schemes. That is what they've highlighted in the submission, saying: 'Securing an effective carbon price for sequestered carbon will drive a process like this.' That's what the industry's calling for. That's what we need. That's what Labor will deliver: the economic framework to allow great developments like this forestry industry expansion for our nation's interests.