NK Collins Industries owner Don Collins.
NK Collins Industries owner Don Collins. Nev Madsen

McVeigh defends government after mill closure

MINISTER for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry John McVeigh had defended claims he did not do enough on his watch to prevent the state's largest cypress company from going into liquidation.

Last week, Toowoomba-based NK Collins Industries was placed into liquidation after more than six decades in business.

The family-owned company was widely-regarded as the largest cypress manufacturer in Australia with saw mills in Surat, Mitchell, Mungallala, Tambo and Augathella as well as its headquarters in North St.

Owner Don Collins told The Chronicle last week he blamed the State Government for shifting the goalposts which he claimed played a part in the company's demise.

Mr Collins said the State Government had raised his royalty payments by 36 per cent, but claimed his biggest competitor had actually received a five per cent reduction.

However, Mr McVeigh said yesterday he believed there were other factors at play which ensured the curtain came down on the business.

"It is a very sad story administrators have come into the business," Mr McVeigh said.

"Especially a company such as NK Collins who has such a rich history in Toowoomba and also the timber industry.

"I note the company has closed a number of their saw mills over the past years, well before the LNP came into power last year.

"It is obvious the company has been finding it tough, as too have others in the industry, for many years now," he said.

Timber Queensland CEO Rod McInnes said local timber businesses are being pushed to the wall.

"Industry is doing it tough, real tough and is on a knife-edge regarding costs," Mr McInnes said.

"The spectre of further raw material increases by way of increased State Government royalties does not bode well for our industry's future.

"Prices (royalties) were adjusted in January 1 when the 25-year supply agreements came into force.

"Now the State Government is seeking to further increase royalties in an attempt to use their monopoly supply powers to force a further increase - just because they can.

"They have even engaged accounting giant Ernst and Young to assist them in this process," he said.

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