Koala park kills mills: Notaras

WORRYING TIME: The jobs of J Notaras and Sons employees including John McLachlan (left), Peter Harper, Peter Carbery and Perry Makings are under threat from the koala park plan, says Spiro Notaras. PHOTO: MARCO MAGASIC
WORRYING TIME: The jobs of J Notaras and Sons employees including John McLachlan (left), Peter Harper, Peter Carbery and Perry Makings are under threat from the koala park plan, says Spiro Notaras. PHOTO: MARCO MAGASIC

CLARENCE Valley timber producers are worried if State Opposition leader Luke Foley's koala sanctuary goes ahead, the last timber they turn out will be for the industry's coffin.

J Notaras and Sons owner Spiro Notaras said the forests Mr Foley had his eyes on would take about 50% of their allocation, make them unviable and cost about 3000 jobs in the timber industry.

He said without the forests included in the plan, they would not be able to produce enough volume or have the diverse species needed for the business to survive.

"That's some of the best regrowth forest in North NSW," Mr Notaras said.

"It's all been logged before. We have managed it for 150 years."

Mr Notaras said the koala was already protected by regulations on the logging industry.

He said of the 418,000-hectare State Forest allocation, they were only allowed to log 30% of it at a time to preserve habitat for koalas and endangered animals, and had to log at least 100m away from a koala colony.

"There are 50 sawmills from Grafton to Kempsey that will be affected," Mr Notaras said.

"The timber harvesting crews, sawmills and value- adding plants, transport industry and all the infrastructure jobs will be affected."

Mr Notaras said he was asking why unions were not involved in these discussions.

"What hurts is Mr Foley did not consult us at all," he said.

Timber NSW general manager Maree McCaskill said if the industry was compensated it would cost government tens of millions of dollars.

"The idea that this is cost-neutral is a complete furphy; switching from state forests to a national park will mean the loss of timber revenues and forestry expertise that is critical for things like bushfire management and the control of pests and diseases," she said.

Mr Foley said eco-tourism would take up lost jobs.

"Labor's great Koala National Park is more than just a conservation policy; it is an eco-tourism policy and a jobs policy designed to protect a natural asset in a way that makes economic sense," Mr Foley said.

"Labor is confident we can protect the koalas of the State's North Coast with a net positive impact on jobs and local businesses through sustainable tourism generated by the park.

"Labor's plan will start with buybacks that the Baird Government has already undertaken. Last year, the Liberals bought back 50,000 square metres of native timber allocation in North East NSW at a cost of $8.5 million and this was done with zero job losses."

Topics:  great koala national park koalas timber industry

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