Release type: Joint Media Release

Date:

Australian Government aid for Tasmanian timber industry

Ministers:

Senator the Hon Chris Evans
Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Sid Sidebottom MP
Minister for Child Care
Minister for Employment Participation

The ongoing impact on the Tasmanian labour market from industry restructuring, particularly in the native forestry sector, will be the focus of an industry lunch in Burnie today.

Minister for Employment Participation, Kate Ellis will attend the lunch, said that the major structural changes have led the Australian Government to act to secure the future of Tasmania’s industries.

“Our aim is to give as much certainty as possible for workers and their families, as well as creating new opportunities for regional communities,” Ms Ellis said.

“At the same time, the Australian Government is deeply committed to promoting sustainable and lasting conservation outcomes in Tasmania.”

Prime Minister, Julia Gillard and Tasmanian Premier, Lara Giddings, signed an intergovernmental agreement earlier this year to assist the native forestry sector adjust to the downturn in the industry and the reduced scale of timber harvesting in Tasmania.

Senator Evans said that this historic $276 million agreement builds on the work done by industry, unions, environmental groups and governments under a ‘statement of principles’.

“The principles we have signed up to aim to ensure the future sustainability of the forestry industry while securing jobs, and achieving environmental outcomes by protecting high conservation value forests and retaining old growth forests for future generations,” Senator Evans said.

“Under the agreement, the Australian Government is providing up to $25 million in immediate assistance for redundant workers who are affected by restructuring in the forestry industry in Tasmania. This includes funding employment assistance, retraining and relocation support.”

In addition, the Australian Government has announced further funding for the expansion of a Forestry Workers Assistance Project.

This project, which has been operating in the Burnie and Wesley Vale areas, has now been expanded across Tasmania to assist workers who have been made redundant as a result of restructuring across the native forestry industry.

Member for Braddon Sid Sidebottom said that the Australian Government has now employed an extra nine worker assistance coordinators who are now operating locally across Tasmania to support redundant forestry workers.

“Most of the coordinators have been employed directly from the forestry industry and have the experience to know what these job seekers need and how to help them,” Mr Sidebottom said.

“Already, since the project was extended, the coordinators have made contact with an additional 225 native forestry workers to offer support and explain the services available to them.”

As well as attending the industry lunch today, Ms Ellis will attend the Australian Government Jobs and Skills Expo in Burnie at the Burnie Arts and Function Centre.

“Today’s Expo provides a great opportunity for forestry workers and other job seekers to connect with future jobs as a result of contacts they will make today,” Ms Ellis said.