28/01/2010 - 10:42

FPC mulls over division sale

28/01/2010 - 10:42

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The Forest Products Commission could undergo further restructures with a taskforce set up to investigate the sale of one of the commission's divisions.

FPC mulls over division sale

The Forest Products Commission could undergo further restructures with a taskforce set up to investigate the sale of one of the commission's divisions.

Forestry Minister Terry Redman said the FPC will take on a redefined role and return to focusing on its core business of supplying wood to the forestry industry.

As a result, a taskforce has been established to investigate the possibility of a sale of the fee-for-serve and sharefarming division of the FPC to the private sector.

Mr Redman said about 90 people are employed in the division and a sale option will be explored as an alternative to redeployments or voluntary redundancies.

He added that the government has been keen to look at ways to exit the role of planting trees for carbon off-sets and investing in sharefarming by growing trees on farms for the purposes of harvesting.

"Recent years have seen the private sector invest more and more in these areas. For this reason, the Government will be exploring ways it can transfer this work to the private sector and focus on its core role of supplying native hardwood, pine and sandalwood to our forest industries," Mr Redman said.

"The sectors have now matured to a point where private companies are creating plantations on private land. It is inappropriate to have Government competing against private sector in this area.

"With respect to sharefarming, much more can be achieved by changing the Government's role from direct investor on a small scale to a support agency that can provide advice, research and practical assistance to private sector projects of a larger scale.

"As we move forward with the investigation of a sale, consultation will occur with various groups including other Government departments, FPC staff and the private sector.

Last October, the FPC reduced its employee numbers by 62 and placed a freeze on recruitment and discretionary spending as part of a restructure brought about by the uncertainty surrounding the federal government's carbon pollution reduction scheme.

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 also contributed to the restructure.

FPC has previously said it expected to save $7.5 million from the October restructure.

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