The announcement by the Andrews Labor Government today of additional supports for timber industry dependent workers has provided some progress for those affected, but is long overdue, lacks detail and does not provide the in-person supports required.
This is the view of Gippsland East National MP, Tim Bull, who has been raising the need for more detail every Parliament sitting week since the announcement was made earlier this year.
“While I want the decision reversed, the fact is the Premier made this announcement with no detail whatsoever for the people impacted.
“This is a step in the right direction, but what I have been calling for is the government to give clear timelines for when the supports will be received and to set up an in-person presence in these timber towns where impacted persons can go and have a face-to-face chat and get some answers. There remains no mention of either of these matters addressed.
“My main focus has been on getting the Government to act on these matters and ensure ‘down the line’ businesses and workers not directly employed by the mills or holding VicForests’ contracts are looked after. I am pleased there appears to be provision for this.
“The announcement today indicates there will be support payments for the likes of firewood sellers, seed collectors and other forest reliant workers, however it still does not address what the government is going to do to address the firewood shortage that it created with the ban.
“Harvest and haulage sub-contractors, chip truck drivers and other businesses heavily dependent on the native timber industry will also be eligible for supports, but they need timeframes and amounts as many are really up against it with mortgages to pay.
“I am also hopeful the Forestry Transition Fund delivers quickly to the truss manufacturing plant in Newmerella that will provide a number of local jobs almost immediately, another issue I have raised directly with the Premier’s office,” said Mr Bull.