Gippsland timber industry workers and business owners need to remain united to fight the Andrews Labor Government’s ban on native hardwood logging, according to Federal MP Darren Chester.
The Member for Gippsland attended the annual Victorian Association of Forest Industries dinner in Melbourne where timber industry leaders gathered to plan for the future of the industry.
They were also addressed by State Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien who committed a future Coalition Government to overturning the Labor Party’s ban on native timber harvesting.
“It’s an important commitment from the State Opposition because it gives us something to fight for at the next state election,” Mr Chester said.
“Our native timber industry is the most sustainable in the world and critically important to towns across Gippsland and the Latrobe Valley.
“I fully support more investment in plantation timber but it is deceitful by the Premier to claim that plantations can replace sustainable native timber harvesting in just 10 years.
“We currently harvest just four out of 10,000 trees each year on public land in Victoria with the vast majority of our forests already locked up in National Parks and reserves, never to be harvested.
“Any trees harvested are replanted on a continuous cycle which has provided timber for construction, furniture and paper manufacturing for decades.
“It’s a strictly regulated industry and if we shut it down, the alternative is importing more wood and paper products from countries with lower environmental standards.”
Mr Chester said he would seek the support of his federal colleagues to fight the State Labor Government’s decision.
“This is the wrong decision for all the wrong reasons and we need to do everything possible to prevent Daniel Andrews from destroying the economy and social structure of towns across Gippsland,” Mr Chester said.
“If more timber jobs go, we can say goodbye to our footy and netball clubs, schools, doctors, hospitals and other essential services as populations decline in local towns.
“We need to stay united and prevent this short-sighted policy from being implemented.”