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Trade - Woodchip Exports

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Thursday, 9 September 2021

Tags: Trade, Woodchips, State Budget

Dr WOODRUFF - Minister, what's the volume of native forest woodchips that’s exported for all Tasmanian ports over the years 2019, 2020, 2021 and to date?

Mr BARNETT - Thank you very much for the question, which is clearly related to my Resources portfolio who are not here this afternoon to answer the question, however, as Minister for Trade and someone who recalls those sorts of statistics, maybe I can assist. It's in the order of five and a half million tonnes.

Dr WOODRUFF - Could I ask that the question be taken on notice so that I have different figures from the different years?

Mr BARNETT - What years would you like?

Dr WOODRUFF - 2019 20, 2020 21 to date.

Mr BARNETT - And just be specific with the question?

Dr WOODRUFF - The volume of native forest woodchips exported from all Tasmanian wood ports.

Mr BARNETT - We'll need to clarify that. My first answer related to woodchips and wood fibre. You're specifically referring to native forestry woodchips?

Dr WOODRUFF - Yes, please.

Mr BARNETT - That's clearly a matter for the Resources department but I'll just check with the secretary.

I'm happy to take it on notice and attempt to try to get an answer to you. I’m not sure that we've got that level of detail because you would understand the private sector is involved in a lot of that but we'll attempt to assist the member if you put it on notice.

Dr WOODRUFF - Thank you, and maybe you'll take this on notice as well - what the volume of native forest whole logs over the same period is?

Mr BARNETT - Yes. You're talking about a total export number or are you talking about -

Dr WOODRUFF - Volume.

Mr BARNETT - All right. Clearly the private sector is involved in that but we'll take that on notice. We'll attempt to assist the member. I'm not sure how easy it is to get that sort of information but we'll attempt to respond.

Dr WOODRUFF - Minister, what is the major market for Tasmanian native forest product exports, what country?

Mr BARNETT - As I indicated a moment ago, this is the private sector and the Government, we can't speak for or on behalf of the private sector. A lot of those exporters are in the private sector, they are not coming from the Government. We will do our best to assist but that is a question you would need to put to the relevant companies. I imagine it is Asia and likely to be China. There might be other countries like Japan, Malaysia or Vietnam, but I am not sure. That is a question best put to those exporters.

Dr WOODRUFF - I am surprised at that, given that we know where the other export countries are for beef, potatoes and onions. I am very surprised that we don't know where the major market for our native forest exports are, but you think it is probably China.

Is Forestry Tasmania's inability to secure FSC one of the impediments for us to have a diversified market access for Tasmanian wood products? Last year or the year before at Estimates, I was asking you questions and China was banning importations to their country. There is an ongoing conversation about diversifying so that we are not reliant on one country. There are great reasons for us to diversify. Is that failure to gain FSC standing in the way of us having a diversity of countries?

Mr BARNETT - That question is in two parts. Certainly, by volume, China is the main market. With regard to the second part of your question, Forest Stewardship Council is a matter for Sustainable Timber Tasmania which is a matter for scrutiny later in the year. As a Government, our policy is we support Sustainable Timber Tasmania and their objective to gain Forest Stewardship Council accreditation. They have made that clear. As a Government, we support their efforts to achieve that accreditation.

Dr WOODRUFF - Would it advantage our diversification prospects if that was to hasten getting FSC? There is a market advantage, I assume, which is why we are trying to get it. Not having it would be a market disadvantage, would you agree?

Mr BARNETT - Again these are questions for STT to answer. It is fair to say our trade strategy, which is what we are talking about here today is to grow our exports across the border.

The reason we are appointing our trade advocates into North America, Singapore, South East Asia and Japan, is to grow and diversify our export markets. That is what we would like to see over time. You cannot click your figures and say, let's do it, because we are talking about providing incentives and support for the private sector to do what they do best. That is to grow the economy, create jobs and produce products.

Clearly, that has been working because we have record exports from July and then there was a record the month before. We are going very well and we want to continue to grow that market and diversify that market.