New forest partnership to guide industry’s future direction

22 May 2023

Australia’s forest and wood products industries are set to benefit from 15 new appointments to the newly developed Strategic Forest and Renewable Materials Partnership – a forum for representatives of forestry industries, unions, and government to consult, exchange advice and information, and cooperate on issues facing the sector.

Diana Gibbs, Chair of the Australian Forest Products Association and Michael O’Connor, National Secretary CFMEU, will co-chair the new partnership. 

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Murray Watt said the partnership would support the Australian Government’s commitment to grow the sector, build on its sustainability and contribute towards Australia’s emission reduction targets. 

“Our forestry industry directly employs more than 51,000 Aussies and sustainably harvests and processes significant volumes of timber for local construction and manufacturing, and trade. It’s critical that government receives the best advice to ensure the industry is productive and sustainable into the future,” Minister Watt said.

“The Partnership will provide that advice on how the industry can contribute to Australia’s timber and wood products needs, our emission reduction goals and climate change challenges. It also provides a direct line to industry to work through policy settings for the sector.

“By replacing the previous advisory body—the Forest Industry Advisory Council (FIAC)—and expanding the membership, we can capitalise on the greater diversity of experience and expertise needed to steer the sector through future challenges and opportunities. I’m also pleased to say that the new partnership has over 50 per cent female membership.

“Importantly, this new partnership will operate on a tripartite basis, retaining the involvement of leaders of forestry businesses, while also including the voices of forestry workers, unions and First Nations participants in the industry, who were previously excluded under the former Coalition Government’s model.

“The Government’s Agriculture Workforce Working Group has successfully brought farm employers, unions and government together, to collaboratively design solutions to the agriculture sector’s workforce needs.

“I expect this new tripartite partnership will embrace a similar, cooperative approach to deal with the forestry industry’s challenges and opportunities.

“The Partnership’s inclusive 15-person membership will possess a wide range of skills spanning production, processing, supply chain, sustainability, research and development, innovation, workforce needs and an understanding of First Nations perspectives.

“By broadening the membership, we’re ensuring that the body holds a deeper understanding of the social, economic, and environmental challenges the sector faces. It also enables better decision making for the long-term benefit of the industry.

“The establishment of the Partnership was an election commitment and a key priority for the Albanese Government, and I look forward to working with the members.

“The Partnership builds on this government’s focus on greater collaboration, and this is something I wish to drive further with my colleagues as I convene the Forestry Ministers Meeting with my state and territory counterparts in July.

“I look forward to working with the Partnership to deliver on this government’s record $300 million investment in the forestry sector.

“I thank the outgoing members of FIAC for their service and look forward to the new Partnership building on their work.”

To view the full list of members of the Partnership, visit