Timber workers face log jam

Written By miftah nugraha on Kamis, 14 Februari 2013 | 19.55

Contractors Nick Bennetto, left, and Jason Weller inspect the logs being stored at the Port of Burnie that have now split. Picture: CHRIS KIDD

THOUSANDS of tonnes of logs, including blackwood, myrtle and sassafras, have been left to split on the Burnie wharf for up to 18 months as frustrated Tasmanian timber merchants clamour for supplies.

Hobart contractor Nick Bennetto, Launceston furniture maker Ken Pugh and Burnie contractor Jason Weller say they desperately wanted to buy some of the Forestry Tasmania timber but their offers were refused.

Mr Weller said he offered five times the rate Forestry Tasmania charged a Smithton sawmill for the logs and he could take 40-50 cubic metres a month.

The 15,000 tonnes of logs are due to be exported to China next week where they will be processed into pulp and veneer products.

Forestry Tasmania would not say how much the Chinese customer had paid for the timber.

Mr Weller, who has customers in the US and Japan, said he could only access timber at Island Speciality Timber yards.

He said that product was far inferior to the logs in Burnie.

"We are struggling to get enough for our customers, who make guitars, boardroom tables and other high-end goods," Mr Weller said.

"Why would Forestry Tasmania rather sell at a loss to China than to locals?" Mr Bennetto said.

Forestry Tasmania forest manager Craig Butt said the logs had been stockpiled in the yard because they carried some kind of defect.

Mr Butt said the contractors who inspected the log stockpile yesterday had not made any formal approaches to buy the logs.

Greens forestry spokesman Kim Booth said Forestry Tasmania was wasting public money while speciality timber merchants could not fill customer demand.


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