Timber workers in East Gippsland and the Central Highlands are devastated with the news the native timber industry is effectively being shut down on the eve of Christmas in Victoria.
Today in the Supreme Court, Justice Richards granted an order to stop native timber harvesting in the Central Highlands and East Gippsland.
The court order cites that any coupe with one or more greater glider sightings or a greater glider observed within 240 metres of a coupe will be shut down.
Shadow Assistant Minister for Public Land Use and The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath has levelled a scathing rebuke at the Andrews Labor Government for its unwillingness to protect timber workers and their families from the onslaught of third-party litigation.
“Let me be very clear, Daniel Andrews and his Ministers are the architects behind this absolute nightmare outcome for our sustainable native timber industry.
“The Timber Code of Practice is flawed with loopholes that Labor refuses to fix despite repeated calls from The Nationals.”
Ms Bath said the court system is now closed for the holidays and no appeal can be heard until well into 2022.
‘This disgraceful situation will leave our haulage and harvest contractors out of work and our mills starved of logs,” said Ms Bath.
“Make no mistake this latest outcome will cost jobs, restrict timber supply further and inflate the cost of building and renovating homes for Victorian families even more.
“Tragically this will be a very bleak Christmas for our regional timber workers and their families.
“Writing to Labor’s Minister for Agriculture today, I demanded the immediate release of windrow timber in the Wombat State Forest for emergency harvesting to keep at least a few crews in work and some supply trickling through, although this is not a permanent solution
“Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Peter Walsh has been calling for the release of windrow timber for some time and following today’s outcome it’s imperative the Andrews Labor Government act immediately and release it for harvesting.
“This is an unfathomable and appalling situation – the Andrews Labor Government cannot cruelly sit back and allow workers to be starved of income while mental and financial pressures multiply.
“How could the Premier and his Minister for Agriculture celebrate Christmas or go on summer holidays while their gross inaction perpetuates an unfair persecution of our timber workers, their families and regional communities?”