Timber industry big wheel Ross Hampton is in Eden this week.
Ross is the CEO of the Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA), the peak industry ‘voice’ for the timber industry.
Why is he in Eden?
AFPA is targeting marginal seats in an effort to change the political debate about the timber industry.
You could compare it to what the mining industry did a little while back while lobbying against the mining tax. The difference is the timber industry doesn't have millions for a TV ad campaign, so unlike the cashed-up miners, this campaign is back to grass roots, it’s rubber on the road and face-to-face lobbying.
“We want the government to understand the vital place forestry, the timber industry and its supply chain, has in Australia, especially in regional Australia,” Mr Hampton told The Magnet this morning, onsite at the South East Fibre Exports (SEFE) chip mill.
“We want to work with them to meet the challenge of a sustainable timber industry in 30 years. Australia have this vision for agriculture, why not for the forest industry?
“There are 280 million homes being built to our north. That’s $17 trillion in business. In a carbon-constrained global economy the value of timber will attract a premium. Nothing else, no other building product, is as sustainable. France achieves 14 per cent of its Kyoto target through timber. It’s not an issue in Europe and shouldn’t be in Australia,” he said.
While Mr Hampton got behind the wheel of a timber hauling B-double in Eden, conservationists were taking the battle direct to Macquarie Street, Bega and Bellingen.
They were protesting at a NSW government proposal to change regulations to allow native forest biomass to be burned to generate electricity.
The NSW government announced last month that it wanted to amend the Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Regulation 2009 to allow “invasive native scrub and logging debris from approved forestry operations on state forest or private land … [to] be burnt to generate electricity”.
Environment groups across the state are concerned the change will lead to wholesale destruction of native forests and woodlands to feed the electricity generators. Protests are being held from noon today in Bega, Sydney and Bellingen.
See next week’s Magnet for more on Mr Hampton’s visit to Eden.