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Concerns raised on softwood log exports

30 September 2020

A South Australian regional timber processor has warned thousands of tonnes of softwood resource are bypassing mills and heading to China, despite long-term shortages facing some businesses.

Softwood export volumes decreased during the start of the pandemic, but trade is again flowing through deep-sea ports in Australia. Photographs supplied to the ABC show softwood resource — sourced from the Green Triangle commercial forestry estate in south-east SA and Western Victoria — being stockpiled at the rail internodal at Bordertown and in the wood holding yards at the Port of Portland, Victoria, ready for exporting.

This comes as the Federal Parliament’s Standing Committee for Agriculture and Water Resources undertakes an inquiry into the nation’s timber supply chain. Member for Barker Tony Pasin said on ABC Radio a code of conduct could be considered for the regional industry.

Mount Gambier-based Roundwood Solutions managing director Steve Telford said softwood resource was being shipped to China despite log supply insecurity facing smaller operators.

“There are a million-plus tonnes of resource going offshore every year — that’s a massive amount of timber,” Mr Telford said. “Our forefathers planted the trees — they were planted with a plan to create jobs into the future. It wasn’t about growing wood for Asia.”

Mr Telford, who is an industry veteran, said every time a boat left the ports, this wood was “gone for a generation. We could 100 per cent use the logs going out of the Port of Portland —both pulp and sawlogs could be utilised,” he said. Mr Telford warned emotions were running high in some sections of the industry.

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Source: ABC, Photo: SA Timber Processors Association

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