Forestry fights for bailout funding

HEADS of Forestry Tasmania have met with representatives of the incoming state government over plans to cut a $70 million bailout fund.

In 2012, the state government set aside $110 million to prop up the ailing state- owned business over four years.

The Liberals opposed it at the time and now plan to rip the remaining $70 million out of Forestry Tasmania.

Chief executive officer Steve Whiteley and chairman Bob Annells met with the new government yesterday.

Premier-elect Will Hodgman confirmed that taxpayers would cease to underwrite the business.

"We're having a discussion with (Forestry Tasmania) about a new way of business, I think one that presents even greater prospects for FT and the private sector, but we're not under any illusions about the size of the task," Mr Hodgman said yesterday.

"There are considerable issues that we need to tackle, but also great opportunity into the future."

In FT's 2012-13 annual report, released in October, Mr Annells and Mr Whiteley warned the business would not have been able to trade without the government funding.

"While every effort will be made to return to profitability as quickly as possible, it is highly likely that Forestry Tasmania will continue to require government support for some time to come," they stated.

The Examiner understands the view of the board has not changed.

Mr Annells was appointed by the former government in September 2013 and has supported the implementation of the forestry peace deal.

The Liberals will soon embark on a review of all government business boards and committees, and Mr Hodgman said Forestry Tasmania's board would be no exception.

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