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Timber industry spokesman takes axe to Labor's koala plan

JOB LOSSES: Hurford Hardwood managing director, Andrew Hurford, warns of business closures.
JOB LOSSES: Hurford Hardwood managing director, Andrew Hurford, warns of business closures. CATHY ADAMS

TIMBER industry spokesman Andrew Hurford has come out swinging against NSW Labor's plan to create a 315,000-hectare Koala National Park.

The chairman of Timber NSW and managing director of Hurford Hardwood described the plan as "a thought bubble" from new Labor leader Luke Foley that would lead to business closures and job losses in the North Coast timber industry.

"This is straight out of the Bob Carr playbook; an unfunded National Park five minutes before an election ... he hasn't conferred with the industry on how people will be impacted," he said.

"All we get to do is read about it in the newspaper and guess what's going to happen."

Mr Hurford said the exclusion of a further 176,000 hectares of forest from timber harvesting would lead to a loss of 100,000 cubic metres of high quality saw logs, or about 40% of what the industry produces at the moment.

"There would be a flow on effect to suppliers in an area that is already highly disadvantaged," he said.

"It's not like there are other jobs that can readily replace it (timber industry jobs).

"The fantasy that they will be replaced by tourism jobs is a joke; we've been sold that pup so many times before."

Mr Hurford said the timber industry was a "soft target" and that Mr Foley was "stuck in a rut from the 70s".

"Pre-every election you see the creation of a new National Park, which seems like good idea to some people," he said.

He said the decline in koala numbers over the last 10-20 years had coincided with the greatest ever expansion of National Parks in NSW.

"The question needs to be asked, why are the best colonies (of koalas) in working forests and not in National Parks? Timber harvesting is not a threatening process for koalas," he said.

Mr Hurford suggested a more holistic approach was needed from all levels of government that includes the reinstatement of habitat across private and public land to make sure corridors are connected.

Topics:  nsw labor timber industry



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