Coates locks horns with State Opposition over future of Carter Holt Harvey

STANCE: Forestry union boss Brad Coates says Carter Holt Harvey is in no position to dictate how State Government money is allocated. He is pictured outside the company’s panels production facility on White Avenue. Picture: SANDRA MORELLOGREEN Triangle forestry union official Brad Coateslocked horns with the State Opposition yesterday over the future of Carter Holt Harvey’s (CHH) panel production sites in Mount Gambier.

Angry over the speculation, Mr Coates said claims by shadow forestry minister David Ridgway were “wrong” and “misleading”.

The union boss also clarified his position regarding future State Government grant money for the CHH panel production sites.

“To come out with false information that CHH could be relocating its particleboard operation to Tumut in NSW has unnecessarily caused the workers at those two sites to have grave concerns about their jobs and has delivered another blow to community confidence in the South East,” he said.

“Mr Ridgway has once again demonstrated his lack of understanding of the timber industry and his contempt for the workers within the industry.

“He appears more interested in politicising the issue with his scaremongering. Is it any wonder that the Liberals are still in opposition when this is how they treat local communities?”

Meanwhile, Mr Coates said CHH also had questions to answer as to why they refused the $27m offered by the Weatherill Government in 2012.

He criticised the company’s decision not to support their South East operation, then turn around and throw their hat in the ring for funding from the government adjustment fund.

“CHH is in no position to dictate how that money is allocated, and neither is anyone else,” Mr Coates said.

“The funds should be distributed on the basis that jobs are created, and unless recipients can demonstrate an increase in employment numbers, they should not get a cent.”