Nationals and Liberal MPs, East Gippsland Shire Councillors, timber industry representatives, small business operators and local timber workers met in Orbost on Tuesday night in a show of solidarity.
Addressing the large crowd, The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region and Assistant Shadow Minister for Public land Use, Melina Bath acknowledged the critical importance of a sustainable native timber industry to the town’s future.
“Victoria has a world class and environmentally sustainable hardwood timber industry which is being destroyed by the ideologically driven Andrews Labor Government.
“It is quite shocking that Labor MPs have no qualms when making decisions about the demise of our timber towns, but cruelly ignore requests to meet with locals and listen to the plight of our Orbost community who are bearing the brunt of Spring Street decisions.
“Almost 40 per cent of Orbost’s workforce is employed directly or indirectly in the native timber industry.
“The town’s viability is dependent on harvest, haulage and mill workers and support industries including mechanics, hospitality, school teachers and healthcare.
“Our East Gippsland mills are being starved of wood supply – listening to locals, it’s clear their mental anguish amid financial uncertainty is palpable.
“The Nationals in State Government will reverse Labor’s strangulation of Victoria’s native timber industry and work with industry, forest scientists and communities to ensure harvesting continues on a sustainable level with threatened species managed on a landscape wide basis.
“The Andrews Government is failing on every front to keep its promise to guarantee timber resource supply until 2030, it is all ‘take’ and no ‘give’ in terms of harvesting area.
“By gazetting the Greater Glider Action Statement, the Andrews Government has the power to close the loophole in the Code of Practice for Timber Production, thereby reducing loss of coupes through third party litigation.
“Along with my Nationals colleagues, I will continue to fight for timber jobs and the survival and prosperity of our timber towns.
“Only a change of Government on November 26 will ensure our rural and regional communities receive the respect they deserve, and Victoria continues to produce environmentally sustainable hardwood timber.”