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Andrew Fraser and Chris Gulaptis joint media: Fraser and Gulaptis stand up for timber jobs

Member for Coffs Harbour, Andrew Fraser, and Member for Clarence, Chris Gulaptis, have slammed the announcement by NSW Opposition Leader, Luke Foley, that Labor would lock up a further 176,000 hectares of North Coast forests should they be elected to government in March at the expense of 3000 timber jobs.

“We call on the CFMEU and all other Unions in NSW to condemn this announcement, which will see the loss of thousands of jobs on the North Coast,” Mr Fraser said.

“Since the days when Bob Carr was Premier of NSW, all the Labor Party has done on the North Coast is try to appease the Greens by closing down the timber industry.

“They closed thousands of hectares of forestry land back then which decimated the timber industry.

“State forests on the North Coast are a sustainable and well-managed resource providing valuable timber for new housing estates up and down the North Coast.

“Everyone wants to see koalas protected – unfortunately Labor’s un-costed announcement will do nothing to achieve that, while shutting down our sustainable timber industry, which operates under some of the strictest protocols in the world.

“Industry has estimated that Labor’s policy will see the loss of more than 3000 jobs on the North Coast.”

Mr Gulaptis said locking up huge tracts of land will see fuel loads build, putting koalas at risk from bushfire.

“Where is the money going to come from for this policy? The cost of the buyout alone could cost tens of millions of dollars, taking away funding from roads, health and education,” Mr Gulaptis said.

“The Nationals have a policy of increasing regional employment, not decimating a renewable and sustainable natural resource industry which provides valuable wood supplies to the building industry, not only on the North Coast, but right across NSW.

“If Labor was serious about protecting koalas, it would address the issues of wildfire, chlamydia and wild dogs, rather than simply locking up land and throwing away the key.

“NSW currently has in excess of 7 million hectares of National Parks and protected lands.

“Turning 176,000 hectares of forests into a Koala National Park is not the solution to protecting koalas but just a Labor ploy to attract Green preferences.”

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