Page MP seeks to help sawmills

PAGE MP Janelle Saffin has organised a regional timber industry workshop in Grafton on September 6 to provide Federal and State agency support to local sawmills facing challenging economic conditions.

Ms Saffin said she had regular contact with timber industry leaders and recognised that they were doing it tough this year due to a combination of international, national and state issues.

"In many ways, the industry has been hit by 'a perfect storm' of pressures from reduced demand for product, competition from cheaper imports, and increased wood supply and electricity costs," she said.

"This is why in April I asked our Local Employment Co-ordinator for the Clarence Valley and Richmond-Tweed Terry Watson to develop a timber industry project, or as some are now calling it, a timber taskforce.

"The wood products manufacturing sector employs thousands of people, either directly or indirectly, so it is important that it remains competitive and sustainable into the future.

"Regional Development Australia-Northern Rivers commissioned a consultant to identify all of the issues facing the industry and I assisted RDA-NR with this research.

"Many of the Australian forestry industry's challenges and opportunities were also examined when I arranged for the House of Representatives Agriculture, Resources, Fisheries and Forestry Committee to hold hearings in Grafton last September."

Ms Saffin said Mr Watson, who co-ordinates the Federal Government's Building Australia's Future Workforce Program, was driving the timber industry project in collaboration RDA-NR Chief Executive Officer Katrina Luckie and NSW Trade & Investment's Business Development Manager Craig Jenkins.

Other agencies involved include NSW State Training Services, Forestworks (Industry Skills Council), Industry Capability Network, Enterprise Connect, DEEWR and AusIndustry.

The regional timber industry workshop will be held in Grafton on Thursday, September 6, from 5pm and 8pm. Invitations will go out next week once a venue has been confirmed.

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