'Commercial use' possible for navy wharf


'Commercial use' possible for navy wharf

By Andrew Parker

The Australian Greens fear a proposed naval ammunitions wharf on the far south coast of NSW may also be used to export logs for woodchipping. The $57 million wharf and jetty and an associated ammunitions facility will be built by early 2002.

The Defence Department development, at the picturesque Twofold Bay, which lies between the town of Eden and the existing Daishowa woodchip mill, is supposedly for loading ammunition on and off navy ships. On March 9, however, Senator Jocelyn Newman, representing the defence minister, told parliament, "The potential exists for commercial use of the new wharf and jetty".

What such commercial usage will be is unknown, but the Greens believe it may include export of forest products. Greens Senator Bob Brown said he expected the jetty "to export, amongst other things, whole logs for processing overseas."

The Greens' suspicions are reinforced by suggestions that $8 million earmarked by Commonwealth and state governments for the restructuring of the local forestry industry can help fund the project. At a parliamentary public works committee meeting last year, the local federal MP, Gary Nairn, proposed this.

The federal government is reluctant to discuss the fate of the $8 million. After a month, it had still not replied to a Greens' question in the Senate put on notice in mid-March.

If the wharf is used for exporting forest products, this would be a significant boon to the forestry industry in the south-east forests of NSW. The industry has already been guaranteed 25,000 cubic metres of timber through the Carr government's Eden Forest agreement, signed off in October.

Brown, however, is sceptical about the stimulating effect of such a development on the local economy — especially its effect on the local tourism industry. The use of the $8 million to encourage woodchip exports, he said, "is a travesty of the idea that the money would create jobs. This complex will definitely tarnish Eden's prospects."