Timber industry slams 'dud deal'
THE Bligh government's asset sell-off has been linked to forecast problems affecting the Newman Government's newly announced Timber Industry Plan, a leading industry spokesman said yesterday.
Timber Queensland CEO Rod McInnes says a working group of government officials had begun to develop a vision for the plan, which would take shape over the next six months.
But he said the renewed government support for his industry was not being matched by the new owners of many near-Gympie forestry assets, which are now operated by Hancock Plantations Queensland.
Mr McInnes said Hancocks seemed "little interested in assisting local millers to meet stiff competition from imported timber and are busy setting up export channels to China".
At the same time, local mills are suffering, with many cutting back to unsustainable production levels.
He blamed the former Government for the problems, because it had not ensured the terms of the sale required priority consideration of the interests of local industry.
"Industry was shut out of the sale process despite many attempts to engage," he said.
"Clearly the Bligh Government couldn't do the $660 million deal fast enough, without considering the future of the local timber industry."
Mr McInnes said the sale price was "about 50% of the forests' replacement value.
"We welcome the initiative to develop a timber industry road map to address this and other issues," he said.