Civil contractors working in forestry management are shrouded in uncertainty after the Andrews Government said it would transition displaced native timber workers into the industry.
Forestry management contractors have for decades been performing work for the state government to construct firebreaks, maintain bush access roads, remove dangerous trees in water catchments and undertake bushfire mitigation activities.
Labor’s sudden closure of the native timber has now put a big question mark over all state government civil work contracts and caused a plethora of uncertainty for existing forestry management workers.
Questioning Labor’s Minister for Environment in state parliament, The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath sought a guarantee that existing forest management civil contractors will not lose their existing contracts.
Responding to Ms Bath Minister for the Environment Ingrid Stitt said she “was not in position to give definitive timeframes yet”.
Ms Bath said given the bottleneck created by Labor’s plans to move native timber workers into the forestry management area, it’s gobsmacking the state government hasn’t devised a comprehensive plan to provide both workforces certainty – it’s clear the it’s making up policy on the run.
“It’s unfathomable that the Andrews Government failed to consider the flow on impacts of shunting one industry into an existing one.
“Both workforces deserve comprehensive answers – the Andrews Government must sort out the wicked problem it created.
“Neither industry can afford to hold onto their specialised equipment and guarantee jobs without a plan that delivers worthwhile contracts that services the substantial debt associated with their highly specialist equipment.
“How can the Andrews Government act to collapse one industry and then announce a transition plan without detail that destabilises another?
“Labor owes forestry management workers and displaced native timber workers respect and open dialogue, instead of issuing vague and non-committal statements like “they will continue to work on these issues”.
“There is a real sense of urgency for Labor to sort out this mess – I will continue to force the Andrews Government to work through all workers concerns and seek clarity around jobs for both groups.”