MLC National Rick Colless addresses the forestry forum at the Grafton Community Centre.
MLC National Rick Colless addresses the forestry forum at the Grafton Community Centre.

Sawmillers vow to fight Forestry code

By EMMA CORNFORD

TENSION between timber bods and Department of Natural Resources representatives was palpable at yesterday's meeting about the proposed Code of Practice for Private Native forestry.

More then 500 sawmill owners, employees and private landowners from all over the State attended the meeting at the Grafton Community Centre, with chairs packed and stakeholders lining the walls.

While the meeting may have been designed to explain the draft code, it often degenerated into a verbal anti-Labor tirade, with the four Department representatives coming under fire from members of the timber industry who claim the code will ruin their livelihoods.

During the meeting, the code was slammed as 'draconian', 'appalling' and 'bloody unworkable'.

"(The State Government) don't care about our communities out in the country, our livelihoods ? it's just about them trying to get Green preferences and we're going to be roadkill if we're not careful," said Redgum Sawmills owner, Ken O'Brien.

"In 30 years in the industry I've never seen such a bloody unworkable bill. "We're human beings ? not some animals in the bush that they can run over and put their spin on."

The main complaint from the timber representatives seemed to be frustration ? that the government were not listening to, and had not taken into account, their concerns about the code.

During the meeting a petition against the code was passed around the room, gathering more than 300 signatures within two hours.

It requested the Minister for Natural Resources, Ian Macdonald, undertake a full review of the code and further consult all stakeholders.

"The main problem we're going to have is apathy," said Louise Burge from the NSW Farmers' Association.

"Don't be apathetic about what's happening to you. We all need to get off our backsides and fight this. We need sign petitions, we need to write . . . (and) run with this issue."



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