Gippsland timber workers and timber towns are being forced to suffer through a lack of action by the Andrews Labour Government on ensuring a continued timber supply.
The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien said it was appalling that the Government was so uninterested in supporting the timber industry that it took the relevant Minister five months to answer a question in parliament about timber shortages.
“On December 20 last year, on the first day of sitting of the new parliament I begged the Minister for Agriculture to intervene to ensure timber supply that had been stopped due to legal action by various green activist groups.
“It is such an insult to the timber industry that the Minister took till May before replying and even then, included in her answer that the Government was ‘still analysing’ the impact of court decisions on the industry.
“I fully understand that the Minister can’t overrule court decisions, but she can take action to source alternate supply and could easily legislate to limit the impact of such litigation in future.
“The court action last year led to the complete shutdown of harvesting by Vic Forests so I’m not sure exactly what the Minister means when she says the Government is ‘still analysing’ the impact – it was patently obvious.”
Mr O’Brien said local mills were either running out of timber or battling to source alternate supplies which was a ridiculous situation given Victoria’s vast forests.
“This is a sustainable carbon-sequestering industry that creates jobs in regional areas and yet the Government is determined to shut it down.
“We harvest just four in every 10,000 trees in Victoria and of course they are replanted making it the most sustainable and renewable industry you can find.
“I know local mills are struggling and there will be an impact on timber towns by the Governments inaction.
“Myself, my Gippsland colleagues and The Nationals will fight to support our timber industry.”