I rise to highlight my ongoing concern with the Victorian Labor government’s ill-conceived and illogical plans to abolish native timber harvesting in Victoria. It’s a plan to destroy a viable industry and throw families into poverty. It’s another Labor plan that undermines blue-collar jobs for green votes. It’s madness at every level. But you don’t have to take my word for it. Michael O’Connor, who is the national secretary of the CFMEU, wrote recently:
… federal Labor’s task of convincing blue-collar workers and communities they will be looked after is threatened by the approach of the Andrews government toward timber workers and their communities.
Because these workers are being thrown on the scrap heap.
I repeat: ‘these workers are being thrown on the scrap heap’.
The only type of transition the current Victorian government proposal offers for the workers, their families and communities is a transition into poverty.
Keep in mind that this is the national secretary of the CFMEU. He continues:
The reality facing federal Labor is that actions speak louder than words. Voters will look to this example of a Labor government transitioning an industry and see that it will destroy livelihoods and communities in the Latrobe Valley. This will send a shiver down the spine of blue-collar workers and communities all around Australia.
I repeat: it’s a ‘transition into poverty’. I appeal to those opposite, particularly those Victorians amongst you: please stand up to Premier Dan Andrews. Please fight for the timber industry jobs in our state. We have a world-class and sustainable industry about to be destroyed, because Dan Andrews has done another dodgy deal with the Australian Greens.
To anyone who’s listening to today’s broadcast and thinking, ‘You know, the sustainable Victorian timber industry doesn’t really impact my life,’ you need to think again. The combined impacts of this ridiculous ban, the ongoing activism by extreme environmentalists and the recent bushfires are set to exacerbate supply chain problems here in Australia. The humble wooden pallet, which is relied on to distribute just about everything that we buy in our shops, is in short supply, and it’s only going to get worse if Premier Dan Andrews continues with this irresponsible plan to ban native timber harvesting. The manufacturers of pallets are already facing timber supply shortages. It’s another reason why Victoria should overturn this decision. The reality is that we have seen supply chain fragility occur during the coronavirus pandemic, and we need to be a nation that makes things—a nation that adds value to our rich natural resources and locally grown products, including our timber resources.
Over the last 20 years we’ve seen enormous changes in the timber industry and enormous investments in their future. The modern timber industry, which is typified by businesses such as Fenning Timbers in Bairnsdale or Australian Sustainable Hardwoods in Heyfield, has world-class manufacturing facilities. It’s recovering smaller sections of wood all the time and joining them together to create high-value products, focusing on maximising the yield from every log. This is an industry that provides jobs and provides a skilled bush workforce during the bushfire months. This is ideological madness. We should not be shutting down the Victorian native hardwood timber industry.