Bungling, greed to blame
By BELINDA SCOTT
POLICY bungling allied to corporate greed is being blamed for the closure of Bostobrick and Kempsey's timber mills with the loss of 47 regional jobs.
Boral says it is closing them because these big-log mills cannot deal as efficiently with the regrowth logs available for processing as its new mill near Port Macquarie, which will take over the work.
Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) North Coast organiser Bluey Menon said taxpayers' money was being used by a Labor government to destroy regional jobs and benefit big company shareholders.
He said 'millions' of NSW government timber industry restructuring funds had gone towards building the new Boral supermill at Heron's Creek.
Mr Menon said Boral had said it would honour all its obligations to the Bostobrick and Kempsey workers, but had not offered them transfers to other jobs, while the NSW Government was refusing to let individual workers apply for assistance under the Forestry Industry Structural Adjustment Program (FISAP).
Mr Menon said he understood that the Minister for Primary Industries, Ian Macdonald, had refused to let the workers apply for individual assistance under FISAP, which could provide each of them with $20,000 relocation help and a $20,000 retraining package. The CFMEU will ask the Minister to release the application forms for the workers.
Mr Menon will also meet Boral management next week. Boral says there are 25 jobs at its new Herons Creek plant but all 47 retrenched workers will have to put in applications for these jobs.
The Opposition Spokesman on Forestry and State Member for Coffs Harbour, Andrew Fraser, said the lock-up of forests in national parks had caused the mill closures, because the reduction in the size and quality of timber available from state forests had been reduced, forcing Boral to build a new mill.