Kevin Rudd, the leader of the Australian Labour party, has announced a A$20m investment package to address many of the issues facing the Tasmanian forestry sector.

Mr Rudd has said that a future Labour government will address skills shortages, crack down on illegal logging, prepare the industry for climate change, look to add value to goods to improve exports and promote best practice across the sector.

“More than 10,000 Tasmanians are employed in the forestry industry and tens of thousands of Tasmanian families are directly impacted by the strength of the industry,” Mr Rudd said in a media statement.

“A Rudd Labour government will provide Tasmania’s forestry community with certainty and security for the future.”

Nearly half of the A$20m will be spent on boosting exports, with A$8m set aside to address improving knowledge of climate change, A$1m to establish a new industry skills council known as ForestWorks, A$1m to develop skills data and A$1m to tackle illegal logging.

Paul Lennon, Tasmania’s premier, welcomed the announcement by Mr Rudd, saying: “Timber communities across Tasmania will be able to go forward with certainty under this policy, which recognises the importance of jobs and ongoing investment in the sector.”

Mr Rudd also announced that the initiative would support the Tasmanian Community Forest Agreement, which offers protection to 170,000ha of forest.