GUNNEDAH Timbers manager Paddy Paul has been left disappointed after NSW Environment Minister Robyn Parker failed to visit his embattled mill during a visit to the area last week.
Ms Parker was in Tamworth and Armidale just days after a frustrated Mr Paul appealed for her to visit the mill to discuss forest access issues he says are threatening the future of his business and his workers.
Member for Tamworth Kevin Anderson said her trip was organised at short notice and she did not have time in her schedule.
“It would have been nice but she didn’t have time. There’s obviously a lot of pressure on her as well in terms of what she had to do for other people, so I’m just going to continue to ask,” he said.
Mr Paul’s frustrations relate to a draft report by the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) into the management of cypress pine forests that was commissioned by the state government last year but is yet to be delivered.
He’s hopeful the findings will lead to the government opening state conservation areas like Trinkey State Forest and areas in the Pilliga to commercial logging, offering a lifeline to the mill.
Under the current arrangements he says they may only have three months’ worth of sustainable logging left, meaning the mill may be forced to close at the end of May or early June.
Mr Anderson spoke to Mr Paul and the mill employees on Tuesday, assuring them he is fighting for their cause.
Mr Paul said the MP couldn’t offer any new information, only that they were still waiting for the NRC report.
“I’m very, very disappointed for the staff,” Mr Paul said.
“I’m disappointed that we’re unable to get them any sort of security through no fault of their own.”
When asked if the minister’s refusal to meet with the mill workers or commit to any solutions was acceptable, given the long fight to secure logging areas, Mr Anderson said that was a matter for Ms Parker, but there is “no doubt” he is frustrated.
“What I can continue to do is push and prod at my level,” Mr Anderson said.
“I don’t have control of those departments so what I’ve got to do is let them do their work.”