Shoalhaven Paper Mill forum to push for future certainty

A community meeting will be held in Nowra on Monday to seek a firm commitment from the federal government to keep the Shoalhaven Paper mill in operation. 

It follows a commitment from Foreign Minister Julie Bishop last month that the federal government would continue to buy specialist Australian-made passport paper from the Shoalhaven Paper mill until at least June 2015. 

However, according to the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, this alone would not secure the mill’s future and the union has urged the Commonwealth to immediately commit to buying more Australian-made paper. 

“The mill can’t survive on passport paper alone,” CFMEU national secretary Michael O’Connor said. 

“The federal government purchases 60,000tonnes of paper for printing reports, brochures and pamphlets each year. 

‘‘If it directed a proportion of that work to the Shoalhaven mill, and also guaranteed fairer access to government markets to its sister mill in Gippsland, the future of the local industry would look far more secure.’’

CFMEU Nowra sub-branch secretary Jack Evans, who has worked at the mill for 20 years, said while the workers very much appreciated the efforts of the local MP, Ann Sudmalis, to secure a victory with the passport paper, it was not enough to secure their jobs. 

“We need a lot more orders, particularly specialised grades. Without them, we’ll struggle,” Mr Evans said.  

“There is a perception that the mill has been saved because of the extension of the passport paper contract – but that’s not the case. It’s a good result but alone, it’s not enough. We need the community to really get behind our mill. It’s an iconic part of Shoalhaven, it’s been there for over 50 years.” 

The community forum will be held at 7.30pm at the Shoalhaven Entertainment Centre, Bridge Street, Nowra. 

Speakers will include Gilmore MP Ann Sudmalis, CFMEU national secretary Michael O’Connor; and chief executive officer of the Flagstaff Group, Roy Rogers. 

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