South Australia Shadow Minister for Forests Adrian Pederick
Local Millers Will Be Burnt If Government Bows To Carter Holt Harvey
Victor P Taffa
Workers at Carter Holt Harvey’s South-East timber mills may go on strike this week with the company reportedly knocking back the Weatherill Labor Government’s $27 Million bailout, demanding that log prices be lowered instead.
“Carter Holt Harvey has called for relief on log prices saying it is critical for the industry and region. However, Treasurer Snelling must ensure any relief provided to Carter Holt Harvey is offered to the other millers in the region, regardless of the size of the mill.” Shadow Minister for Forests Adrian Pederick said.
Carter Holt Harvey is in dispute with the State Government over lower log prices and a long term supply contract, threatening mill closures in the South East and hundreds of job losses.
Treasurer Snelling has offered a Holden-type bail out assistance package to Carter Holt Harvey, speculated to be to the tune of $27 Million. However the Treasurer must take into account the impact any assistance to Carter Holt Harvey will have on the smaller local millers in the region.
“The Treasurer must not forget about the other companies who have been operating in the region for decades or other smaller millers who operate in the other timber markets.” Mr. Pederick said.
“What assistance and support is the Government offering to these businesses?”
“These businesses have also been affected by the high Australian dollar and the impact of imported logs from Europe and the US, but I don’t see the Government negotiating assistance packages for these local South Australian businesses.”
“Any support provided by the Government, whether it is a monetary package or lower prices and guaranteed supply, must be offered across the entire industry to ensure all millers are supported. It has to be all or none.” Mr. Pederick said.
“From my meetings with industry stakeholders, it is clear any assistance package offered to Carter Holt Harvey will have a negative flow-on effect throughout the timber industry in South Australia.”
“If Carter Holt Harvey gets what they want, particularly lower log prices, the small to medium millers in the region could be forced to cut 300 to 400 local jobs with the very real fear of future closures.” Mr. Pederick said.
“The Government must provide support across the entire milling sector if it is to provide assistance to Carter Holt Harvey in order to truly support the forestry industry in the region.”
“This clearly shows how out of touch the Government is on forestry issues in South Australia.” Mr. Pederick said.