Tiwi Islands forestry deal chips out bright future

26 November, 2015

Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Senator Anne Ruston, and Minister Assisting the Minister for Trade and Investment, Senator Richard Colbeck, welcomed the first export shipment of woodchips from the Tiwi Islands as an historic deal for the Northern Territory and the broader Australian economy.

As the nearly 40,000 green metric tonnes prepared to leave Port Melville today, Minister Ruston said the deal was a testimony to vision of the Tiwi islanders to create a sustainable commercial economy.

"The Tiwi Islands forestry project is expected to provide between $140 million and $150 million in export income to Australia over the next five years, as well as 60 to 80 jobs and substantial income for Tiwi communities," Minister Ruston said.

"Forestry and forest industry product imports and exports are at an all-time high--evidence of the Australian Government's commitment to a profitable, competitive and sustainable sector.

"There are nearly 30,000 hectares of Acacia mangium plantations owned by Tiwi Traditional Owners and they will be replanted to provide an ongoing source of harvesting material and income in future years."

Senator Colbeck said the momentous deal was an example of targeted investments by governments working in partnership with industry to create opportunity for growth and employment in northern Australia.

"A $6 million Australian Government grant helped Tiwi Islanders buy much needed woodchip harvesting and ship-loading equipment, and the Northern Territory Government chipped in with a $2.8 million loan to bring the plantations to the point of harvest and to help with progressive upgrading of roads," Senator Colbeck said.

"Further shipments are planned every two months from a floating pontoon wharf, built and leased from a Singaporean firm.

"The woodchip will be sold to customers in Japan and used in the production of high quality paper, such as photocopying and printing paper through a five year deal with a major Japanese trading company.

"Deals like this prove Australia is open for business and the Australian Government is delivering on its election promise to promote market access and boost trade."

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