The Hodgman Liberal Government is committed to not only rebuilding Tasmania’s forest industry, but also to ensuring that the State’s forest agency is sustainable.
Today, I was pleased to advise Parliament that Forestry Tasmania (FT) is well on the way to delivering a sustainable bottom-line on its commercial operations.
The 2014-15 Annual Report that I tabled today shows FT has recorded a $20 million turnaround on its operations through its efforts to reduce costs and improve revenue, which will yield further results this year and beyond.
The strong result for 2014-15 was achieved on the back of a $7.3 million increase in revenue and a $13 million reduction in costs.
While much work remains for FT to achieve financial sustainability on its commercial operations, this is a welcome step in the right direction.
This is also a turnaround that could not have been achieved under the previous Labor-Green government, whose anti-forestry policies underlined a failure to find a solution to the FT’s reliance on public subsidies.
Labor and the Greens offered $30 million a year of taxpayers’ money diverted from hospitals, schools and police with no end in sight.
In contrast, the Liberal Government is rebuilding forestry, and we are working with the board of FT to put the Government Business Enterprise on a sustainable footing.
Together with an improvement in non-cash items including a $38 million increase in the value of standing timber, FT’s bottom-line is a profit of $31.7 million for 2014-15 – a significant turnaround on the $43.1 million loss recorded in the previous year.
This improved result for FT comes on the back of some recent positive news for the industry, which is growing in confidence under a supportive Government.
Wood and woodchip exports were up by more than 30 per cent in the year to August, to be worth $35 million – an $8 million increase on the previous year.
We have seen the official opening of Forico’s $9.5 million redevelopment of the Surrey Hills Mill, near Burnie, supporting about 100 direct and indirect jobs in the North-West, including mill workers, contractors, harvesters and haulage operators.
We also have seen the opening of the $15 million Ta Ann plywood mill at Smithton, the launch of the ARBRE Hub in Launceston to train the next generation of forestry workers, and the buy-back of the Southwood sawmill by Neville Smith Forest Products.