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  • Rikki Lambert

Timber needs a hand hopping off Kangaroo Island: Labor opposition

The South Australian Labor Opposition has called for a government freight subsidy to help transport timber from Kangaroo Island to build 10,000 homes - and the state government agrees, at least, that it is time for a freight subsidy.

A surge in demand due to the federal government's HomeBuilder program, Australians unable to travel investing in upgrading their homes and global logistical challenges are contributing to strong demand for timber. Labor claims prices have gone through the roof - up 15 per cent in the last 12 months.

Labor forestry spokesperson Clare Scriven MLC said on Wednesday that the government needed to help reduce the cost of moving timber from Kangaroo Island and save 4-5000 jobs in trades associated with the construction industry:

“I urge the State Government to ensure there is a freight subsidy for KIPT (Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers) in the upcoming State Budget to ensure there is adequate supply of timber for construction across South Australia. “Up to 100 small businesses and 5000 jobs in the housing construction industry are at risk if this freight subsidy is not introduced. “This is not a situation that the Marshall Liberal Government should leave to industry to resolve, they need to ensure the continuation of timber in South Australia as a matter of urgency.”

The Marshall government told FlowNews24 in a statement that primary industries minister David Basham was meeting with the federal minister on Thursday to ask for a federal subsidy. On Thursday afternoon, the government could not confirm the outcome of that meeting.

The federal government provides a subsidy worth hundreds of dollars per load for freight from Tasmania's King Island and Furneaux Group of islands to the Tasmanian mainland, but not for Kangaroo Island.

The SA Best party made an audacious pledge before the 2018 state election to build the business case for a bridge to be built between Kangaroo Island and the mainland.

SA Best MLC Frank Pangallo told the ABC at a forum on the timber shortage that his party organised at Parliament House on Wednesday:

"We need to ensure that the state government in conjunction with the federal government acts on this (timber shortage) pretty quickly so we're looking at saying to the state government, 'You really need to get your skates on here before we hit a valley of death'."


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