NSW Taxpayers Bankroll Native Forest Logging by $15 Million; Call for Minister to Act.
Native forest logging in NSW has cost State taxpayers $15 million in 2012-13 according to the Forestry Corporation Annual Report just released.
The $15 M loss for 2012-13 comes on top of losses of $16M for 2011-12 and $13 M for 2010-11.
“What makes it worse this year is that the Minister for Finance and Member for Bega, Mr Andrew Constance is now one of two shareholders in the Forestry Corporation, under its new structure as a State Owned Corporation,” according to convener of the Chipstop campaign, Harriett Swift.
“As Finance Minister and 50% owner, he has the power to end this rip off and I am calling on him to act urgently,” she said.
“Without this loss, the Forestry Corporation could have paid a far bigger dividend to the State Government made possible by its profitable softwood plantations,” Ms Swift said.
“The Finance Minister should be representing the interests of taxpayers and I am sure that NSW taxpayers would be fed up with having to fork out amounts like this year after year,” Ms Swift said.
“This money squandered on propping up native forest logging could have been put to good use providing health, education and other much needed services instead of destroying priceless environmental assets,” she said.
Ms Swift said that while the Annual Report does not provide regional figures on losses, it is a fair bet that much of the loss was from woodchipping to supply the Nippon Paper owned Eden woodchip mill, which also made a $2.6M loss last year.
“According to the Annual Report, the volume of pulp wood logged in 2012-13 fell by 30%,” she said.
“It is bad enough that this industry should exist at all, but for NSW taxpayers to bank roll it to the tune of $15m is nothing short of scandalous.”
“Mr Constance could solve the problem immediately by requiring the Forestry Corporation to charge realistic, market based prices for trees.”
“Native forest logging is subsidised in many ways, but charging below market prices for royalties is an ongoing cost to State taxpayers,” Ms Swift said.
3 December 2013
The Forestry Corporation’s latest Annual Report is now available at http://www.forestrycorporation.com.au/resources/pubs/corporate/annual-report
Further information on subsidies to the woodchipping industry: http://www.chipstop.savetheforests.org.au/subsidies.htm