Exit funds used to haul logs: Greens claim

MONEY set aside in 2013 to help struggling contractors exit the forest industry was being used to pay for fuel to haul logs North from Tasmania's Southern forests, it has been claimed.

Bass Greens MHA Kim Booth said that $4 million of the $20 million had already been wasted and yesterday fronted the media with three contractors who said they were at their wit's end.

An angry Glenn Woodcock said the Greens were the "only ones that have really helped us".

"We've been promised by everybody, but the other two parties just ran away.

"The roading contractors were the first people to go into the forests - without us, nobody would have got anything.

"We were originally told we were eligible ... but got knocked back all the time."

Mr Woodcock said that when Gunns made its $904 million net loss in 2011-12, he and other road contractors went overnight from full-time work, to nothing.

Mr Booth said that the challenge was for Resources Minister Bryan Green to "stop dipping his hand in the public purse by pumping diesel, bought with public money, into log trucks".

"The money should be spent on road work and civil contractors who have missed out on any assistance whatsoever," he said.

"The Tasmanian Select Committee on Forest Industry Exit Packages found the $16 million made available for hardship assistance should be provided to those in the forestry industry who were not eligible for exit under the first round because of the way the program was managed or targeted.

"Instead, Mr Green has wasted $4 million of public money putting diesel into log trucks to cart (logs) from the Southern Forests ... ignoring people who have already faced financial ruin and face losing their houses as a result of the financial collapse."

Mr Booth said that the road makers, who were fundamentally important to any forestry operation, were somehow not considered for compensation and called for a commitment from whomever formed government after March 15, to put the remaining $16 million into exit assistance for them rather than propping up an unviable industry.

Mr Green said that of the $20 million, $4 million went to special hardship cases, with $7 million each for a worker assistance program through ForestWorks and a contractor program to assist the remaining contractor chain.

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