Why we need a new timber-processing industry

The Australian Government has backed a $2.4 billion proposal to create a new industry in Western Australia.

Key points:The state Government will give $1 billion to a private consortium to undertake the projectThe project will produce enough timber for more than 1 million homes in WAThe project has received the backing of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Energy Minister Josh FrydenbergThe project would produce enough wood to supply about 1 million residential homes in the stateThe proposal was unveiled on Thursday by Premier Colin Barnett and Energy Secretary Josh Fryderman.

The project is expected to create an estimated 1.2 million jobs over a 25-year period and will be the largest commercial timber-based project in Western Australian history.

“We know there are huge amounts of timber left to harvest and we know that it’s important for this industry to be successful,” Mr Frydenbaker said.

“This is a massive project that is going to create millions of jobs in this state.”

Mr Frydenboar said the project would create more than one million jobs, which would be shared across WA, with up to 50 per cent of those jobs being in timber-dependent industries.

The State Government is looking to partner with a private timber-mining company to build the processing facility in the town of Westport.

“Westport is a big town,” Mr Barnett said.

Mr Fryderberg said the Government was not looking to spend any more money on the project than the amount the project already cost.

“The State has committed $1.5 billion to the project.

It’s $2 billion and the Government is going back and looking at that to see what the best way is to spend that money,” he said.

The Government is also supporting an independent, private timber processing consortium to develop the project and to harvest the timber.

“It’s a private company and they’ve been operating for 15 years.

They have a well-established timber industry in WA, and we want to ensure that the project is as robust and successful as possible,” Mr Justice Jackson said.

He said the private timber company would provide the processing infrastructure and the Federal Government would ensure that all payments were made in full.

“You can see how much the State’s contribution will be compared to what the Federal government has committed,” he added.

Mr Justice Jackson also noted the Government had committed to investing $1 per tonne of wood in the timber industry and not to buy, import or export timber from overseas.

“I’m confident the Federal Labor Government will honour that commitment,” he noted.

The government also announced a $1 million reward for information leading to the arrest of anyone responsible for damaging or destroying a timber-harvesting operation.

“For the last five years, the timber community has been on the front foot fighting for the protection of our forests,” Mr Minister Frydenberry said.

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