12/10/2009 - 10:39

ETS uncertainty forces FPC cuts

12/10/2009 - 10:39

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The pending outcome of the federal government's carbon pollution reduction scheme has created uncertainty for the Forest Products Commission of WA, which has had to cut staff numbers as part of a restructure to reflect the changing economy.

The pending outcome of the federal government's carbon pollution reduction scheme has created uncertainty for the Forest Products Commission of WA, which has had to cut staff numbers as part of a restructure to reflect the changing economy.

The impact of the Varanus Island gas explosion, losses in softwood plantations from wildfires, the global financial crisis and no allocations under the Natural Resource Management budget had prompted the FPC to review its structure.

As a result, the FPC said it will place a freeze on recruitment, reduce staff and contractor numbers by a combined 62 positions, reduce the agency's fleet vehicles by 20 per cent and implement tighter control on staff travel.

It expects to save $7.5 million this financial year from the restructure.

FPC general manager Paul Biggs said the issues had to be addressed if the commission was to be positioned and ready to deal with future changes within the timber industry.

"Essential field services will be maintained for the present but staff reductions will eventually result in some tasks being suspended," he said.

A draft of the revised structured will be presented to staff early next month.

In addition, the FPC said all new work on carbon sequestration is on hold pending the resolution of the federal carbon pollution reduction scheme.

The federal government wants to lock in the scheme before climate change talks in Copenhagen in December, while Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull is currently trying to convince the Liberal Party to negotiate with the government on amendments before the talks.

"There is an imperative to undertake a substantial restructure of the business to reflect changes in the economy and await direction from the State Government as to the role FPC will have in the emerging carbon economy, if or when a federal emissions trading scheme becomes law," Mr Biggs said.

The FPC delivered 5,000 hectares of carbon offset plantings in 2009 for electricity retailer Synergy.

 

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