Forest Industries Federation WA CEO and Labor veteran Adele Farina slams Government over timber ban transition

Headshot of Jakeb Waddell
Jakeb WaddellManjimup-Bridgetown Times
Forest Industries Federation WA CEO Adele Farina.
Camera IconForest Industries Federation WA CEO Adele Farina. Credit: Supplied

The peak body representing WA’s timber industry is again at loggerheads with the State Government over its handling of the upcoming native forestry ban, with the group claiming it had no input into crucial funding to help affected businesses.

Forestry Minister Dave Kelly last week announced a $30 million grants programs for small businesses affected by Premier Mark McGowan’s decision to end native logging by 2024, which included up to $400,000 for companies to diversify operations or expand into different streams.

While unveiling the plan, Mr Kelly said the scheme had been developed through consultation with the Native Forestry Transition Group, which comprised the Forest Industries Federation WA, led by veteran Labor politician and chief executive Adele Farina.

But Ms Farina has again taken aim at the State Government, this time claiming the entire transition group was blindsided by a funding package she said was unacceptable and announced publicly far too early.

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“FIFWA categorically refutes the minister’s claim that the package has been prepared in consultation with the community representatives on the NFTG,” she said.

“The package announced by Minister Kelly has been developed by the Government and an outline of the package was presented to members of the Community and Industry Development Sub-group of the NFTG for the first time on Monday afternoon.

“Members of the sub-group expressed serious concerns with the proposed package, which fails to deliver the Government’s promised Just Transition, leaving many impacted by the Government’s decision to cease native forestry by 2024 without any funding assistance to make the transition forced on them by the Government.”

Ms Farina said the McGowan Government did not yet know how many businesses would even be affected by the timber ban and was not yet in a position to be unveiling detailed grant commitments.

The group’s views were last week backed by Manjimup Shire president Paul Omodei, who said the transition process has so far been “farcical” and called the Premier to conduct a full social and economic impact study before any further actions were taken.

“There is sincere concern that to date, the package as a whole may not deliver a Just Transition, unjustly impacting on the population and workforce associated with the industry,” he said.

It is not the first time Ms Farina has publicly called out the State Government since the ban was announced, with the ex-politician labelling the first round of funding earlier this year “woeful” and slammed them for failing to engage affected businesses.

Mr Kelly said it was unfair for FIFWA to claim it was not consulted and significant consultation with all key stakeholders had taken place before the latest funding was unveiled.

“Sub-groups comprising FIFWA and other stakeholder representatives were formed to facilitate the consultation process and development of the three transition support packages,” he said.

“FIFWA representatives were members of each of the three sub-groups, and participated in the development of the packages.

“Given this history it is unreasonable for FIFWA to say they were not consulted.”

The industry shutdown is estimated to save more than 400,000ha of native jarrah and other forests in coming years, with about 500 workers to be affected.

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