The absence of any specific funding initiatives for the forest products industry in this year’s South Australian Budget was a missed opportunity for the Government, according to the Australian Forest Products Association State Manager, Mr John Stokes.
Mr Stokes said despite the strong focus on jobs and some welcome measures, such as tax breaks and incentives for businesses to take on extra workers, it was disappointing that there wasn’t more to support the future development of the forest products industry.
“Unfortunately, funding for important new industry initiatives like the National Institute for Forest Products Innovation were missing,” said Mr Stokes. “The industry in South Australia employs 7,000 people directly and a further 15,000 indirectly, mainly in regional areas and generates more than $1.5 billion each year.”
Mr Stokes said that as the sixth largest manufacturing industry nationally, well targeted forest industry policy settings by Government would create new jobs and support important economic growth, especially in regional areas. “The Government says job creation is one of its most important objectives, so an industry like forestry that can demonstrate upside in this area should be supported,” Mr Stokes said.
As South Australia heads towards the next state election, AFPA will work with all Parties to identify policy settings that will help grow the industry and therefore jobs and the economy. “Getting commitment to forestry policies that are good for regional SA and the state will be our priority,” Mr Stokes said.