Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester has slammed today’s decision by Bunnings to stop sourcing timber from VicForests.
“It is extraordinary that Bunnings would make this premature decision without any genuine consultation with its local suppliers and jeopardise the financial futures of dozens of timber workers and their families in Gippsland,” Mr Chester said.
“At a time when all jobs are at a premium and Gippsland is recovering from the combined impacts of drought, bushfires and the coronavirus, Bunnings management is demonstrating no respect for working class families.
“Management should reconsider its decision, particularly while legal challenges are still pending in relation to the case involving VicForests that Bunnings is concerned about.
“We have a world-class timber industry in Victoria where 94% of forest is protected and a small proportion of native forests are harvested each year under VicForests’ control, then forests are allowed to regenerate in a sustainable cycle over 80 years.
“It’s the ultimate renewable industry with young growing trees absorbing more carbon dioxide, compared to mature forests, and timber harvested according to the strictest standards in the world.
“Gippsland timber mills have invested in new technology to add value to the trees harvested with manufactured products that are in high demand. Wood that used to end up as waste or low value wood chips, is now joined and glued to make high value products that are available for home handymen and the construction sector to purchase.
“Bunnings has shown complete contempt for their suppliers and hard-working timber industry families with a premature decision which is all about virtue signalling and nothing about the environmental sustainability of the industry.
“The VicForests issue is still subject to appeal in the courts system and I fear that Bunnings will replace the Australian-made product on those shelves with imported timber which is harvested with less environmental scrutiny.”