Minister avoids Forests office debate

JOBS for the Clarence Valley would not be coming from NSW Forests, which was in the early stages of corporatisation, NSW Minister for Primary Industries Katrina Hodgkinson said yesterday.

Ms Hodgkinson told The Examiner she had heard that a NSW Government department would be decentralising to Grafton but refused to be drawn further on the matter, saying it needed to be announced by Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner.

The idea of splitting state forests into a softwood and hardwood division with the hardwood head office in Grafton had been touted before the 2010 election, Ms Hodgkinson said, but the plan was reconsidered once she discovered the "horrific" state the department was in.

The minister said Forests NSW would be run by a board of directors and a chief executive and would become a state-owned corporation possibly as early as next year.

This, she said, would cut inefficiencies and allow NSW Forests to run without political interference.

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