Budget Estimates reveal government ‘assistance’ provided for Eden chip mill

Repairs to the Eden chip mill are under renewed scrutiny, with Minister for Primary Industries, Lands and Water Niall Blair admitting in the Budget Estimates review that “a range of [government] assistance” is being provided to Allied Natural Wood Exports.

Last week, ANWE general manager Jarrod Wallis advised the Eden Magnet that the mill was “funding the repair work without government assistance”, which was confirmed by Member for Bega Andrew Constance.

But with the release of the Budget Estimates, forestry campaigner Harriet Swift has called on the State Government to “come clean about exactly what help it has provided to the wood-chipping industry” following damage to its main conveyor system in June.

During the recent hearings on the Budget Estimates, Members of Parliament had the opportunity to ask questions on government spending, with two key questions posed by Greens MP David Shoebridge.

“The Minister for Primary Industries (Niall Blair) has now admitted that the state has provided assistance to the chip mill via a ‘number of agencies’,” Ms Swift said, quoting the budget estimates.

In a second item, Mr Blair admitted “payment terms were modified for the period to October 2016” with exact details “commercial in confidence”.

On Tuesday, the Minister confirmed these admissions.

“The NSW Government has provided a range of assistance to ANWE to help ensure minimal disruption as they re-establish their export operations,” Mr Blair said.

“The NSW Government, through a number of agencies including Lands, Forestry Corporation NSW and Transport for NSW, has been working to support ANWE as they get their operations back up and running.

“Support has included assistance to quickly establish a temporary loading facility to enable woodchip exports and flexibility in regards to current supply agreements.”

Mr Blair said Forestry Corp has also worked with ANWE to identify products to process, and has reviewed its production schedule “to ensure local Eden-based contractors can continue operating”.

“The NSW Government continues to monitor the situation closely but welcomes the fact that ANWE has been able to send shipments of woodchips from the temporary loading facility,” Mr Blair concluded.

Originally Published at http://www.edenmagnet.com.au/story/4206853/chip-mill-scrutiny/

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