Representatives from Gippsland’s native timber industry have agreed to fight for the future of the industry and are calling for an urgent meeting with the State Premier following a meeting in Bairnsdale today with local, state and federal government representatives.
The meeting moved a motion:
“That this meeting of Gippsland timber industry representatives condemns the flawed State Government decision to ban all native timber harvesting by 2030; and further calls on the Premier Daniel Andrews to meet with our delegation of five industry representatives as a matter of urgency to discuss the social, economic, environmental and cultural implications of the decision; and further instructs our local, state and federal representatives to explore all opportunities to overturn the decision announced by the Premier.”
Member for Gippsland Darren Chester arranged the meeting and brought Federal Assistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries Senator Jonathon Duniam to meet some local timber industry leaders from Bairnsdale, Orbost, Heyfield and Swifts Creek.
“Communities across Gippsland, like the rest of Victoria, are reeling from this decision,” Mr Chester said. “It is terrible news for hard working families in the timber industry, our timber towns and small business owners.
“Victoria has a vast reserve of national parks with strict environmental protections. Our state’s timber industry is the most environmentally sustainable native timber harvesting industry in the world, with value-adding occurring in timber manufacturing facilities in Gippsland.
“Timber is a renewable resource. Timber production and recreational activities, like four-wheel-driving, camping and hiking, can co-exist in our well-managed forests and they will be next on the Premier’s hit list.”
Member for Gippsland East Tim Bull said local jobs were at risk.
“The timber sector is a major employer and many mills and haulage companies have been run by the same family for decades,” Mr Bull said.
“This meeting was a chance for the industry to unite to fight this decision. There’s been no consultation, no warning and the Victorian Labor Government clearly has no understanding of this sustainable industry.”
Also at today’s meeting were representatives from local government, Member for Gippsland South Danny O’Brien and Member for Eastern Victoria Melina Bath.
“This decision by the Andrews Labor Government undermines Gippsland’s proud history of supplying world-class timber products from a renewable resource,” Mr Chester said.
“I won’t give up on local jobs and our small communities and, together with my state National Party colleagues and industry leaders, will fight this decision.
“It’s going to be a long battle, but one we need to fight to save our timber jobs, our timber towns and our sustainable timber industry.”