Mr BELL (Mount Gambier) (15:09): My question is to the minister for forestry. Can the minister inform the house if Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers will begin burning timber on Kangaroo Island this week?
The Hon. D.K.B. BASHAM (Finniss—Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development) (15:09): I thank the member for Mount Gambier for his question. It's a very challenging situation that we have on Kangaroo Island, where we have an access issue in relation to getting timber off the island. It's certainly been an issue that we have been aware of for many, many years. When these plantations were planted, there was not much foresight about how the timber was to be got off the island, and the challenges are still there. It is something that we are continuing to have to work on to make sure that we are able to maximise those opportunities.
We are working with the federal government to see whether there is an opportunity for them to support the timber that was damaged on the island by the fires, to get that off using a support scheme similar to the one they operated in burnt timber areas in the Eastern States, in Victoria and New South Wales. We are continuing to negotiate with them in this space to make sure that we are able to get that timber to market.
The most important thing is there is a great asset sitting there on the island. The opportunity is certainly there to bring that timber to market. There are potential buyers out there. We have had numerous conversations with those potential buyers who would like to assess that timber. We have seen KIPT themselves put an expression of interest out for people to clear their land, which includes the opportunity for that timber to be harvested in that process. We are working with KIPT to see what opportunities there are. We will continue to do so.
There is certainly the expectation there will be some burning of some residues on the island, as is normal practice with forestry. There is also some timber, which was damaged to the extent that it has no economic value at all, that may need to be burnt, so I imagine there will be some opportunity for that timber to be burnt. Also, the big challenge about burning timber is that it has to be dry enough to burn. You can't just pull a tree down and burn it; they don't burn efficiently. The opportunity for timber to be burnt is very limited at this point in time.
We will continue to work with KIPT to maximise the opportunity. Particularly in the structural timber space, there is a real opportunity to bring that to market. There is huge demand out there for that timber within the building sector at the moment. We will do what we can to bring that timber to market and we will continue working with KIPT and the interested parties in this space.