Legislative Council: Tuesday, May 30, 2023


National Institute for Forest Products Innovation

The Hon. I. PNEVMATIKOS (15:23): My question is to the minister—

Members interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: Order! I would like to hear the question.

The Hon. I. PNEVMATIKOS: My question is to the Minister for Forest Industries. Will the minister inform the chamber about the outcomes of the recent NIFPI round 3 funding announcements?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (15:24): I thank the honourable member for her question and her interest in this matter. I was delighted to recently be able to announce additional funding for forest and wood product innovation through round 3 of the National Institute for Forest Products Innovation (NIFPI) Mount Gambler committee for project investment.

The Mount Gambier centre for NIFPI aims to grow Australia's forest and forest products industry by exploring and facilitating innovation in the plantation forest products sector. In total, more than $6 million of new research will be funded through the Mount Gambier centre of the National Institute for Forest Products Innovation and eight new projects will be conducted out of Mount Gambier, the funding for which comes from both state and commonwealth governments, along with investment from industry.

The Mount Gambier committee, assessing round 3 projects, has ensured successful applicants have proposed research priority areas for funding that include the development of new products, safe and efficient workplaces, precision management, tree growing, social licence issues, robotics, and automation and artificial intelligence.

The eight projects that have been successful and will be conducted out of the NIFPI centre in Mount Gambier include a Central Queensland University project that addresses the safety risks of multiple in-cab driver assist devices in the Australian forest industry, with approved funding of just over $173,000; a University of South Australia project that will work towards the development of a program for future revision of AS/NZS 4063.1:2010 characterisation of structural timber, part 1, test methods, with approved funding of $250,000; and a University of South Australia project to enhance softwood and hardwood plantation site productivity and subsequent operational efficiency by use of an innovative clean-row establishment system, with this project being granted over $456,000.

Flinders University has been successful in their project proposal, which is for an evaluation of remote sensing approaches for plantation health surveillance, with this particular project being awarded $563,000. The University of South Australia will also be awarded $246,000 for a project that looks at weed identification using remote sensing and $358,000 for a project looking at plantation water use estimation and measurement for plantation forests.

The University of Tasmania has been awarded $356,000 for research, development and validation of eight-star rated architectural products maximising the use of out-of-grade timber. Finally, Tree Breeding Australia has been awarded $450,000 to research developing more productive plantation trees to be better adapted to changing environments.

All of these exciting projects will be undertaken right here in South Australia in the home of the forest industry in our state: Mount Gambier. The outcomes of this research will benefit not only the South Australian forest industry but more broadly across Australia and indeed the rest of the world. Of course, this is just the latest round of funding. I have no doubt that this significant investment will lead to further advancements in the industry that will see the industry continue to flourish. I look forward to continuing to be able to update you in this place as Minister for Forest Industries about our continued investment in the research and development of the forest industry.