31 March 2022

Statements by Senators

Last week, 21 March was the International Day of Forests. Forests are one of our planet’s greatest renewable resources. When managed sustainably, as we do in Australia, they provide essential materials for many industries, particularly construction. I’ve spoken about forestry at length in this place, and I do so because it is often unfairly criticised and attacked by many who wouldn’t know the first thing about how the industry operates. These people do not stop to think about the impact of their misguided activism on the lives and livelihoods of the many workers, families and regional communities who rely on jobs in forestry.

But these people are not the only threat to forestry. There has also been a lack of support and direction from the coalition government. The Liberals and the Nationals have made a habit of announcing support for forestry prior to an election and not following through whilst in government. Despite the coalition’s promise at the last election to plant one billion trees, under their watch Australia’s plantation estate has shrunk by 500 million trees, down 10 per cent since they formed government. Now, right before an election, we have an announcement from the Prime Minister: to plant 150 million trees. But how can we trust him or his government? How can we believe anything that they say? We as a country should strive to be self-sufficient, rather than relying on imported materials like timber. We must invest in domestic manufacturing, create jobs and secure our supply chains. Australia cannot afford to lock in another timber shortage crisis, and we cannot afford another term of this Liberal-National government.