Regional Victorians are used to receiving little in Labor Budgets, but this one hurt us like few before, with the government using it to kill off the native timber industry, said Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull.
“To announce a full closure in six months (December 31) with a paltry $200m compensation package will cause pain for workers and communities and will be felt across regional Victoria,” said Mr Bull.
“This figure won’t go anywhere near meeting the payouts required to individuals, let alone the communities that will have to rebuild.
“It is a decision that is simply wrong on so many levels, but the most galling is Labor’s attempt to sell this as looking after timber workers and their families.
“This Government and the Greens, who are in unity on this, have never been able to explain where our hardwood timber – that is increasing in consumer demand – is going to come from.
“The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recognises timber as the only carbon storing building material in existence, stating: ‘In the long term, a sustainable forest management strategy aimed at maintaining or increasing forest carbon stocks, while producing an annual sustained yield of timber, will generate the largest sustained mitigation benefit’.
“If market demand is increasing, the IPCC is telling us to build with wood and we do not have the plantations – where is our hardwood going to come from?
“One suggestion is countries with far less oversight than our highly regulated timber industry here in Victoria. It’s a bad day to be an Orangutan,” he said.
Mr Bull said this decision also decimates our frontline fire-fighting response.
“In the devastating 2019/20 fires, timber workers and their equipment were at the forefront of the immediate response.
“There are no specifics on what industries will be supported to grow and replace jobs and economic investment in our timber towns.
“The government has form in this area. When it closed Hazelwood it said an electric car manufacturing plant would be established with much fanfare, but it was scrapped soon after.
“It also promised a native plant nursery for Nowa Nowa to replace the mill closure, but has since announced it will not be located in that town.
“The biggest deceit in all this was the government originally said it would transition to plantation timber by 2030, but the reality is there was never hardwood plantations to transition to.
“It finally conceded this in Parliament last year when asked for the specific locations of the hardwood plantations, which should be 20-30 years old now if we were to transition to it by 2030.
“There was never an intent to transition, only close it down, and today proves that.
“This situation has arisen as a result of the Andrews Labor Government bowing to inner-city green pressure. Something had to give, and it is the rural communities again,” he said.