Timber assistance offer widened

The South Australian Government says it is opening up a $27 million assistance package to all timber milling businesses in the south-east after it failed to reach an agreement with Carter Holt Harvey.

The funding was announced after news of the sale of forestry forward rotations.

Carter Holt Harvey previously warned more than 1,000 jobs could be at risk in the region because of the sale.

Treasurer Jack Snelling said, despite months of negotiating in good faith, the company could not agree with the Government on any assistance.

"Assistance that we initially offered to Carter Holt Harvey and that they rejected we'll now make available to all mills including Carter Holt Harvey to apply for as a co-investment for investment in updating their mills and expanding their capacity down there," he said.

"Local mills in the south-east came to me saying that to give Carter Holt Harvey assistance and to exclude them would be to put them at a distinct disadvantage and they called upon the assistance to be broad-ranging." Independent MP Don Pegler welcomed news of the package being offered more widely.

"If the Government had gone ahead and just helped Carter Holt Harvey it would have put all the other mills very much at risk, so you may have saved some jobs at Carter Holt and lost all the jobs at those other mills, and don't forget they were all significant employers," he said.

Union official Travis Lawson said assistance of $27 million was too little and "not even a bandaid for our industry"

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