Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester has thrown his support behind efforts to uncover the reasons behind a State Government decision to halt all native timber logging by 2030.
The Native Timber Taskforce (NTT) has lodged a Freedom of Information request to the Victorian Government for the scientific basis behind its policy decision.
Taskforce members include Wellington Shire Council, East Gippsland Shire Council, Timber Towns Victoria, Australian Sustainable Hardwoods (ASH), Radial Timbers and the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU).
Mr Chester said the reasons for the government’s decision must be made public.
“We have a world-class timber industry in Victoria where 94% of forest is protected and a small proportion of native forests is harvested each year under VicForests’ control,” Mr Chester said. “Forests are then allowed to regenerate in a sustainable cycle over 80 years.
“It’s the ultimate renewable industry: young growing trees absorb more carbon dioxide compared to mature forests and the timber is harvested according to the strictest standards in the world.
“Gippsland timber mills have invested in new technology to add value to the harvested trees by manufacturing products that are in high demand. Wood that once ended up as waste or low value wood chips is now joined and glued to make high value products sought after by homeowners and the construction sector.
“This change in State Government policy is gut-wrenching for hard working families in the timber industry and Gippsland small business owners. We all deserve to know the scientific basis on which this decision was made.
“I suspect Premier Andrews made the call based on city politics, not science.”
The taskforce has lodged its FOI requests with both the Department of Premier and Cabinet and the Minister for Agriculture. A decision on valid requests should be made within 30 to 45 days.