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The Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester has written to the owners of Australian Paper’s Maryvale mill to seek assurances on behalf of hundreds of workers whose jobs are threatened by cuts to timber supply.

Mr Chester said he didn’t believe State Government assurances that jobs would be secure in the proposed transition to plantation timber.

“The State Government’s policy to abandon all harvesting of native timber is a threat to jobs at the paper mill along with all other timber industry jobs in our region,” Mr Chester said.

“I’ve written to the mill owners to establish whether the State Government has given any guarantees on wood supply and local jobs.

“I am a long-time supporter of Australian Paper’s Maryvale mill operations and recognise the vital economic impact it has on my region. Hundreds of local families depend on the mills continued viable operation.”

Mr Chester said he had discussed the issue with local government representatives who were supportive of the timber industry.

“During a recent meeting with Wellington Shire Council, I was informed that Local Government representatives had unsuccessfully attempted to obtain details of the policy with Freedom of Information requests,” Mr Chester wrote.

“Notwithstanding any commercial-in-confidence matters, I am seeking your guidance as to what assurances the Victorian Government has provided to your company in relation to supply of raw materials to allow full production to continue at Maryvale.

“I have seen no evidence that the Victorian Government has any prospect of securing the volumes of wood required to undertake the proposed transition and workers at Maryvale will risk losing their jobs.”

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