Cautious response to Norske Skog forests sale

Norske Skog workers talking to Brian Mitchell MHR on an
official visit to Norske Skog’s Boyer Mill in 2017.

NEWS of the proposed sale of papermaker Norske Skog’s Tasmanian forests to an investment company has been greeted cautiously by Federal Member for Lyons, Brian Mitchell.

“The recent announcement of a sale of assets at Norske Skog’s Boyer is one of interest given the sale is to New Forest,” Mr Mitchell said on Friday. “Jobs in the Derwent Valley are a priority for me, but I am comfortable with the news workers will be receiving any entitlements as per the Enterprise Agreement and potentially offered work with the new owners,” he said.

The Mercury reported that eight forest management positions at Boyer would be made redundant if the sale of 18,000 hectares of radiata pine plantations received regulatory approval, with the affected workers likely to be hired by New Forests if they chose to apply.

“Bipartisan negotiations between the companies and the unions need to be at the forefront of the sale and I will be encouraging all parties to tick that box,” Mr Mitchell said. He assured all Norske Skog workers that his office was in close contact with all relevant parties. “The Boyer site is the hub of the Derwent Valley and its secure future is on the top of my agenda for the future.”

Guy Barnett MHA at Boyer last year.

Primary Industries and Water minister Guy Barnett told the Mercury that the State Government had been informed of the sale of Norske Skog’s forest assets operations and had been assured that wood supply for the Boyer Mill will not be affected.

In a Facebook post, Derwent Valley mayor Ben Shaw said he had been confidentially alerted to Norske Skog’s proposal on Thursday morning. “Mill management and company management have assured me this will have very minimal impact on our mill and region, they are basically divesting themselves out of owning trees and forests,” Cr Shaw said.

“There may be a few jobs that will no longer be employed directly by Norske in the forestry division, but on the back of the sale the company has signed a supply agreement for logs with New Forest so I’m assuming those people will have opportunity with the new owners,” he said. “The mill is in really good shape after the decision recently to shut down Albury and this is just another measure that makes the mill more viable for the future.”

Cr Shaw said the purpose of his social media post was to address “sensationalist headlines” and “locked stories”. “I wouldn’t normally comment on these things however the life of the mill is extremely important to our region and when I seen this, another ‘locked’ story with sensationalist headlines, I thought best to clarify with the best of my knowledge what I could.”

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