Danny O’BRIEN (Gippsland South) (09:49): Thousands of people from across Gippsland flocked to Heyfield again on Saturday for the Heyfield Timber Festival. It was a great event and a credit to the organisers and a defiant wider industry. However, a cloud hangs over the entire sector. Labor government policy and court action have locked workers out of the bush, and supply has dried up so badly that even woodchop events across the state are under threat because they cannot get logs.
A deliberate Labor policy to end native timber harvesting, coupled with the failure to amend the timber code of practice to shut down green lawfare, has ground the industry to a halt. Harvest contractors are out of work, mills are closing or being forced to import timber, and last week 200 jobs were lost at Opal Australian Paper at Maryvale. If Labor wonders why it lost the seat of Morwell, it needs to look at its own policies.
It is no surprise the Greens are now seeking to bring forward the shutdown of the industry, producing one of the most spectacularly ignorant comments I have seen in recent times. Yesterday in the Herald Sun the member for Melbourne was quoted as saying:
Logging in native forests needs to end now – not in seven years when we have no forest left.
If the member for Melbourne truly thinks we are on the brink of having no forests left, I invite her to travel out to Healesville, face east and start walking. When she gets to Canberra and has not been out of a forest once, she will understand how sustainable this industry is after 150 years of operation. Timber is natural, sustainable and renewable and sequesters carbon while providing housing and jobs for regional people. Why the Greens and Labor do not support it is beyond me.