Another illegal protest is stopping access to timber coupes near Snobs Creek in Victoria’s high country today, leaving hard-working families without a day’s pay on the first day of school for 2022.
It’s the latest blow to a crucial Victorian industry that’s already on its knees as a result of the Andrews Labor Government’s decision to ban the responsible and sustainable harvest of native timber by 2030.
Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh said the illegal protest came as court action has strangled timber availability.
“The Andrews Labor Government is sitting on its hands as generations of hard-working Victorians lose their livelihoods to the illegal actions of extreme activists,” Mr Walsh said.
“It’s death by a thousand cuts for an industry that supports the direct and indirect jobs of tens of thousands of Victorians, both in regional Victoria and in Melbourne, and ensures the survival of small timber communities like Heyfield, Swifts Creek, Orbost and Nowa Nowa.
“The longer these illegal protests go on, the worse it gets for contractors, their workers and timber businesses down the line – like timber pallet manufacturer Dormit in Dandenong South or the Latrobe Valley’s Australian Paper.
“Instead of today being about getting their kids back to school, these families are again worrying about whether they’ll be able to put food on the table.
“The illegal actions of these protestors further destroys an industry already on its knees because of Daniel Andrews’ short-sighted, destructive political agenda and unwillingness to enforce laws that are in place to deter this type of criminal activity.
“As our state continues to focus on recovering and rebuilding after the pandemic, The Nationals and Liberals will continue to stand side-by-side with the hard-working people who have built our responsible, sustainable native timber industry into a $7.3 billion boost to our state’s economy.
“By contrast, what we’re seeing today is law-abiding Victorians shouldering the burden of Labor’s soft approach and unwillingness to enforce the law on those people who decide to break it.”
The Victorian hardwood industry has access to less than 6 per cent of Victoria’s forest area, with the other 94 per cent not available for harvesting.
Of the small amount of harvestable area, less than 0.05 per cent is harvested in any given year with new trees planted to replace any that are removed.