Future Of Australian Wooden Boat Festival Under Threat

Future Of Australian Wooden Boat Festival Under Threat

Tasmania Opposition Leader Will Hodgman

Forestry Deal Threatens Future Of Iconic Australian Wooden Boat Festival

Victor P Taffa

The Australian Wooden Boat Festival on Hobart’s waterfront has a reputation as one of the world’s best maritime events and attracts tens of thousands of cashed up tourists from right around the globe, Opposition Leader Will Hodgman said.

However the future of this iconic 4 day festival is under threat as a result of forestry legislation rammed through the House of Assembly by Labor and the Greens.

The agreement is a disaster for specialty timber supply which will be cut by 60 % putting Tasmania’s wooden boat building industry at risk and threatening the festival which has capitalised on the global recognition of our boat builders and the timbers they use.

A founder of the Australian Wooden Boat Festival, Andy Gamlin says the festival was built on the premise that Tasmania builds the best wooden boats in Australia, of timbers native only to Tasmania.

“Our maritime reputation and heritage is linked to our timbers, especially huon pine. If Tasmania’s specialty timber supply is decimated, the local representation of boats and reputation of the Australian Wooden Boat Festival will be impacted.”

Mr. Gamlin also owns the Wooden Boat Centre in Franklin and is deeply concerned about the future of the centre if specialty timbers become scarce.

“We are working hard to build the Centre’s Australian and global profile to attract new business and build boats that will bring credit to Tasmania through design, workmanship and our incredible timbers.”

Through offering education in traditional wooden boat building the Centre is part of a global network and represents the southern hemisphere as the only such school, but without quality timber the Wooden Boat Centre may cease to exist in its present form.” Mr. Gamlin said.

“In parliament last week the Premier was unable to even say how much, or what type of specialty timber would still be available in her own electorate of Franklin, which says it all.” Mr. Hodgman said.

“This deal has always been about keeping the Greens happy and Labor in Government.”

“There has been no thought about the consequences, particularly on our world renowned specialty timber crafts or international events like the Australian Wooden Boat Festival which inject millions of dollars into our economy.”

“This rushed, politically motivated deal should be rejected by the Legislative Council.” Mr. Hodgman said.

THE FACTS

Despite a commitment by the Prime Minister, the Premier and Professor Jonathon West, no assessment has been carried out to determine the demand for specialty timbers as needed by Tasmanian craftspeople.

This deal results in over a 60% reduction in Special Timbers Zones and an 80% reduction in non-blackwood species (e.g. celery top pine).

As a result of the forest deal, the boat building sector currently has no supply of celery top pine logs (it is the most used timber at 42% of all timbers used) and some businesses have to use imported timbers to fill orders.

The now broken promise of 12,500 cubic metres of special timbers proposed in the IGA was itself never based on actual demand it was based on a supply figure from FT’s Special Timbers Strategy. It does not include individual species targets based on industry demand and available resource.

A review of the Tasmanian Woodcraft sector in 2009 concluded 2,000 people work fulltime in timber crafts industries, with another 8,500 either part-time employed or engaged in working with Tas timbers as a hobby.

ABS Statistics (2006) indicate the Tasmanian special timber value adding sector contributes upwards of $250 Million p.a. to Tasmania’s economy.

No socio- economic impact study has been carried out on the impact of the decimation of the Special Timbers Value adding sector in Tasmania.