Delivering jobs, innovation

Senator for Tasmania Richard Colbeck and Liberal Candidate for Braddon Brett Whiteley were in Smithton on Monday to meet with Britton Timbers director Shawn Britton (centre) and talk industry growth, investment and employment. Pictures: Ashleigh Force.

Investment. Britton Timbers will employ an additional five people upon the completion of its High Value Timber Drying Improvement Project.

Expected to be completed by the end of the year, the works have also created five jobs throughout construction. 

Britton Timbers director Shawn Britton met with Liberal Senator for Tasmania Richard Colbeck and Candidate for Braddon Brett Whiteley to discuss the industry boost on Monday, a product of a two-year research study at the University of Tasmania. 

“What we found is by being able to dry timber in controlled climates it can dry a lot faster and we can get a lot better quality out of it in the end,” Mr Britton said. “It’s all about high quality and better recovery.” 

Partly funded by the Federal Regional Jobs and Investment Package, the $735,000 purpose-built facility will include drying sheds, paved loading and unloading areas, fire mitigation, monitoring and security infrastructure. 

Mr Britton said that while Circular Head is renowned for its timber industry, the climate provides productivity barriers. 

“If our timber sits for too long in damp, wet conditions . . .  we can get a mould and a fungus growth on the timber and that’s not accepted in the market place,” he said. “This project is all about eliminating that to get a better value at the end of the day.” 

High quality timber products generally require a period of between eight months and two years of drying, Mr Britton says. It is expected up to 2000 cubic metres of Tasmanian oak and blackwood will reside in the monitored environment for between six to 14 months. 

“We’re looking to be able to rotate about 25 to 30 per cent of our overall stock through these sheds,” Mr Britton said. 

“We are expecting to recover about 20 per cent more wood value that can be sold into the marketplace.” 

In launching his campaign in Smithton for the Braddon by-election, Mr Whiteley said delivery of promises would be important.

“One of the real challenges of regional Australia is keeping up with innovation and technology to make sure that we remain competitive, and ensuring the future of the jobs that are already here,” he said.

“What we are seeing here today is the delivery of $300,000 plus into a project that is going to be essential to growing this business.

“I understand what it takes in this region to build an economy that is sustainable [and] I have a vision that this community will continue to be economically sustainable.”

Senator Colbeck said a boost to production efficiency has his tick of approval. 

“I think it is important to consider that over recent years we have seen a constraint in the volumes of timber that have come out of Tasmanian forests so getting a higher yield and higher return per log . . . simply makes sense. 

“As a former carpenter myself, knowing that you can get access to particularly high quality products – flooring and furniture timbers – is something Tasmania is renowned for and we want to be able to put the best quality product into the market and get the best return out of it.”

Britton Timbers currently employs 90 full time workers and another 30 contractors.

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