The Nationals Gippsland South Timber Labor Plantations

Labor’s sham timber plan a dud deal for Gippsland

The Andrews Labor Government has again let Gippsland timber workers down by refusing to guarantee support for the timber industry and unveiling a sham “plan” for plantations.

Asked several times on ABC Gippsland this morning about the government’s long-term plans for Victoria’s timber industry, the Agriculture Minister, Jaclyn Symes, refused to give the industry any certainty, while confirming a further 5000 hectare reduction in timber available to industry.

The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien said he was concerned Gippsland’s timber industry was facing death by a thousand cuts.

“While the Government claims the reduction will have no impact on its ability to meet contracts to timber mills, I don’t think anyone actually believes Labor has the long-term interests of Gippsland jobs at heart.

“We have seen this Government constantly pander to city-based green groups at the expense of Gippsland jobs and this appears to be yet another case of that.

“Our timber industry is sustainable, it has the ability to store carbon and create local jobs but Daniel Andrews is more interested in appeasing the Greens than supporting our jobs in Gippsland.”

Mr O’Brien said many hundreds of people in the Gippsland South electorate were among the thousands of Victorians who directly and indirectly rely on the timber industry for a living.

“I’ve always been a passionate supporter of the timber industry and will remain so, even if the Andrews Labor Government is turning its back on it.”

Mr O’Brien also said the Andrews Labor Government’s plantation announcement was a sham. Two years ago the Government allocated $110 million for new timber plantations and has finally announced plantings will begin this year.

“Labor promised to “expand” the plantation estate but the fact is this 550 hectare announcement is on land that was previously used as plantations and is simply being replanted.

“There is no net gain, which means no additional timber resource for Australian Paper at Maryvale or any other mill for that matter.

“If the Andrews Labor Government is serious about supporting Gippsland jobs it should be doing much better than this.”

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