Concerns for the availability of commercial firewood have been raised following the Andrews Labor Government’s decision to shut down the native timber industry.
The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien said it is clear that the Andrews Labor Government has failed to fully consider how its decision will impact everyday Victorians who use firewood to heat their homes.
“Currently, VicForests supplies a significant portion of the commercial firewood available for purchase in Victoria,” Mr O’Brien said.
“Energy price rises have already led to increased firewood demand and prices as people look for alternative sources of heating. I recently wrote to the Minister responsible seeking assurances about the commercial supply of firewood but got a motherhood response about domestic firewood collection in response.
“Clearly the Government hasn’t thought this issue through.
“If VicForests, which supplied more than 37,000 cubic meters of last year’s firewood supply suddenly drops out of the market, it only follows that we can expect demand and prices to rise further.”
Mr O’Brien said free firewood zones for domestic collecting were already under significant pressure to meet demand and he was not aware of the Government taking any steps to address this issue and prevent further unnecessary hardship on Victorian households.
“Affordable and reliable firewood supply should be a priority and common-sense would suggest that the Government needs to allow continued commercial firewood collection from our forests in some manner.
“I recently wrote to the Minister for Agriculture, Gayle Tierney asking what action is being undertaken to ensure commercial firewood supply following the forced closure of the native timber industry.
“I was disappointed, but not surprised by the Minister’s cold response which simply stated that “firewood is an unpredictable and limited resource and demand will exceed supply in some areas.”
“Victorians deserve a proactive Government that take steps to improve living conditions, not enforce political-based decisions like the closure of a sustainable industry that only serves to further increase hardship.”