Timber advisory position

HEYFIELD businessman and forestry leader Vince Hurley has been appointed to a high-powered federal government body that will help shape Australia’s $7 billion timber industry.

Mr Hurley, chief executive of Australian Sustainable Hardwoods, is one of a dozen members of the new Forest Industry Advisory Council, which will provide recommendations to government on proposed legislation and policies that affect the industry.

Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Senator Richard Colbeck, said the council would advise the government on building a positive future for the forestry industry in Australia.

Council members have a broad range of forestry expertise, from sawmilling (Mr Hurley) to private forestry, plantations, wood product importers and manufacturers. Six councillors and observers are from Victoria, including the chief of Hancock Victorian Plantations, Linda Sewell.

Initial items on the council’s agenda include research and development, opportunities for commercial forestry under the carbon farming initiative, investment for new forestry and processing, update of the National Forest Policy Statement, and emerging uses for wood fibre and cellulose products.

Senator Colbeck will co-chair the council alongside experienced forester Rob de Fegeley, president of the Institute of Foresters of Australia.

The chairman of the Australian Forest Products Association, Greg McCormack, said the government’s action kept the faith with forest product industries.

Mr McCormack said a national fibre and forestry plan was need to entice forestry businesses to invest in plant, equipment, people and resources. This would be just like the White Paper process that the government was undertaking for agriculture.

“Unlike many businesses, forest product industries rely on a resource which must be planted decades before it is needed, and that will only happen if businesses have certainty that they have a big future in this country,” he said.