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SA government 'offers millions' to support timber jobs
17/08/2012 - The South Australian government will expand its offer of millions of dollars in assistance to a timber company to save more than 1000 jobs in the state's southeast. Tim Dornin
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Treasurer Jack Snelling said Carter Holt Harvey had knocked back its first offer of financial help, but the government was preparing a new package.
He declined to reveal the proposed amount but said it was in line with support recently given to car maker Holden.
Holden received $50 million from SA as part of a $275m package, which included support from the federal and Victorian governments for more than 2000 jobs in Adelaide.
"Carter Holt Harvey is an incredibly important employer in the southeast, very important to the regional economy.
"The government is prepared to invest a considerable amount of taxpayers' money in order to protect those jobs.
"So far they've said to us that's insufficient for them to continue their operations down there.
"I plan to make another offer of assistance in the very near future. I will do everything in my power to protect those 1000 jobs."
In a letter to staff, Carter Holt Harvey said the price it was paying Forestry SA for logs was too high in the face of a flood of cheaper imports.
It said unless it could negotiate new contracts, its financial losses would force the closure of local timber mills.
Snelling said it would not be appropriate for the state government to get involved with contractual arrangements between the company and Forestry SA.
But he said there were other pressures at work, including the high Australian dollar and the weakness in the home construction industry.
Snelling said the government viewed those issues as cyclical and support for Carter Holt Harvey would not be open-ended.
"There has to be a cap on how much we can provide," the treasurer said.
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