The Andrews Government’s native timber transition plan has been labelled a sham after Labor walked away from establishing hardwood plantations.
During State Parliament Ms Bath pushed Minister for Agriculture, Jaclyn Symes for answers, however the native timber industry continues to be met by silence from the Minister.
Ms Bath cited the former HPV plantation at Maryvale which has only been replanted with blue gum, a pulp species.
“Since Labor’s $110 million announcement in 2017 to establish plantations, not one new hectare of land has been planted or an additional hardwood tree put in the ground,” said Ms Bath
VicForests recently confirmed the Andrews Government is only planting 250 hectares of blue gum during 2020.
Ms Bath said the industry is only ten years away from the cessation of harvesting native timber forests and Labor’s ‘Victorian Forestry Plan’ is bogus and insulting.
“Hardwood trees take 60 years to mature. Simple maths shows there will be no available hardwood plantation timber in ten years, risking Victoria’s high grade timber sector in flooring, furniture and joinery markets,” said Ms Bath.
“The Andrews Government’s native timber transition plan will kill jobs and lead to increased imports at a time when every job is absolutely critical in regional Victoria, Labor is pushing timber workers further towards mental and financial ruin.”
The Victorian Hardwood Sawmillers Association spokesperson Leonard Fenning said they were committed to fighting the Victorian State Government’s decision to close the native timber industry.
Mr Fenning said the Andrews Government’s timber policy was wrong and must change.
“Only four trees out of every 10,000 are harvested annually in Victoria, with every tree replaced and regrown by law, while sawmillers operate modern innovative businesses using high-tech equipment manufacturing goods for all Victorians,” said Mr Fenning.
“There is no need to acquire agriculture land to establish plantations, the physical location is inconsequential.”
Ms Bath said the Victorian native timber industry is highly regulated and sustainably managed compared to overseas industry models.
“Under the Andrews Government planned closure of Victoria’s native timber industry, Victorians will be using unregulated imported rainforest timber,” said Ms Bath.
“Labor must admit it’s timber transition plan has failed and won’t deliver a suitable alternative for our sustainable native timber industry.
“The Nationals are calling on Daniel Andrews to abandon his diabolical native timber transition plan.”