The WA Forestry Minister says a request for a $25 million grant from the owners of the state’s largest native timber mill shows the industry knew the viability of native logging was coming to an end — a claim the company rejects.

Key points:

  • Parkside Timber employs more than 160 workers in plants at Greenbushes, Nannup and Manjimup
  • Minister Dave Kelly says Parkside appealed for WA funds to avoid shutting its Greenbushes plant
  • In a revised proposal, the company says the money was to assist with its expansion plans

WA Forestry Minister Dave Kelly said Parkside Timber had approached the government with a proposal for the grant in August to assist with expansion plans of its three mills in Nannup, Manjimup and Greenbushes.

In it, the proposal states unless the $25 million state government grant funding was secured, the company would be forced to shut its Greenbushes site by December 2021, and scale down operations at Nannup.

Native logging in WA will be largely ceased by 2024 following a surprise recent announcement by the McGowan Government.

A sign outside a Nannup factory

Parkside Timber employs over 160 workers at three South West plants.(

ABC South West: Anthony Pancia

)

Forestry Minister Kelly said the proposal laid bare the company’s outlook of the native timber industry in WA.

 “It does underline the questionable viability of the native forestry industry even before we made the decision we did,” Mr Kelly said.

Mr Kelly said the grant request was denied.

Parkside CEO John McNamara said the proposal, which was referenced in parliament last week, had been an “internal draft”, submitted for feedback from staffers within the government’s Forest Product Commission.

Mr McNamara said references to the closing of the Greenbushes site had been “a tactic” by a Parkside director to “give the government some incentive” to approve the grant request and allow the company to expand.

A second version of the proposal, viewed by the ABC, instead states: “Without the grant investment, the WA timber industry will not achieve Stage 3 Whole of Forest value-adding.”

Mr McNamara said the Stage 3 expansion sought to expand capabilities at all three of its sites and double its current workforce of about 160 workers.

He said the company was now considering its path forward following the McGowan government announcement.

“The government has made the policy statement it has, but it hasn’t been able to let us know what it all really means and what resources may be available post 2023.” 

Posted , updated 

Parkside timber’s plea for $25m ‘evidence’ industry knew future was in doubt, WA minister says
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