Ms O'CONNOR question to MINISTER for RESOURCES, Mr BARNETT
Can you confirm that Majestic Timbers, the company your Government awarded the southern residues contract to in September 2016, has collapsed, its director, Shane Rice, has fled the country, its contractors have not been paid for up to three months, and its employees have been told they are out of a job tomorrow? Will you explain to the House what has happened to this company your Government awarded a multimillion dollar, 180 000 tonne per annum export contract to, and will you take some responsibility for the terrible situation faced by contractors and workers because of your failure to ensure proper due diligence was done in awarding this contract?
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her question. The member has a disposition to oppose very strongly the forest industry in Tasmania. She has been doing that avidly day in, day out for a long period of time. It is a policy position for the Greens to kill off the native forest industry and put out of work thousands of jobs across the state.
The Swire Shipping company made a commercial decision to end the Hobart port call for their containerised shipping service from 12 September, earlier this month. Swire advised TasPorts that while volumes have been reasonable, the cargo margins remained low. Bulk log exports from Hobart have not been affected by the decision. The loss of the Swire service impacted only those products that were exported in containers.
Following the closure of the Swire service from Macquarie Wharf, Majestic Timbers has advised Sustainable Timber Tasmania that it has temporarily suspended containerised export operations in southern Tasmania. In recent months Majestic Timbers had been taking up to 2000 tonnes of wood residues per month from southern forest operations for export in containers to South-East Asian markets. Majestic has advised that South-East Asian customer demand for export quality logs remains buoyant and the company is continuing to examine alternative arrangements for containerised exports from the south.
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker, on relevance. This is an important matter of public interest. We need an honest update from the minister on whether this company is operational or insolvent and whether the directors have fled the country.
Madam SPEAKER - I cannot put words in the minister's mouth, so it is not a point of order. Minister, please continue.
Mr BARNETT - Thank you, Madam Speaker. There was a range of questions in the member's question and I am attempting to answer them without her consistent interjections, which is regular for the member for Denison.
Majestic's other operations will continue, we are advised, and they will be meeting with supplies and contractors -
Ms O'Connor - Staff are out of work tomorrow.
Madam SPEAKER - Ms O'Connor, warning number one.
Mr BARNETT - As I was saying, we have been advised that Majestic's operations will continue. They will be meeting with supplies and contractors affected by the decision to suspend containerised exports. On the wider issue of southern forest residues including access to markets, as members in this place know and the public knows and as we have advised, the Government has tasked well-known industry leader Evan Rolley to examine all the options as a priority.
Clearly what we have seen today and what we know from the form of the member for Denison is her usual hypocrisy. When Labor and the Greens were in government we know what happened to the forest industry. We know and the public know that there is no better friend to the timber industry than the Hodgman Liberal Government.
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker, relevance. Can the minister address the due diligence question, perhaps?
Madam SPEAKER - It is not a point of order. Please continue, minister.
Mr BARNETT - Madam Speaker, the member for Denison does not like to hear the truth. She knows she has a track record of decimating and killing off the forest industry and the workers and their jobs, with 4000 jobs lost under the Labor-Greens government - two-thirds. It was the demise of the forest industry and now we have seen the confidence and the rebuilding. You can see it getting back on track. As to this picking and choosing by the member for Denison in terms of her attacks on the industry, you will get no better friend of the rebuilding forest industry than the Hodgman Liberal Government.