Gippsland South The Nationals Jobs Timber Industry Timber Danny O'Brien Plantations PAEC Native Harwood Timber

Labor Government drags feet on timber and Gippsland jobs

The Andrews Labor Government is continuing to drag its feet on providing essential timber resources to maintain and boost Gippsland jobs.

Questioning by The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien in State Parliament’s Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC) last week has revealed that new plantations promised by the Andrews Labor Government in 2017 won’t even be in the ground until winter 2022.

Mr O’Brien was reviewing the Government’s budget announcement from May 2017 of $110 million for new timber plantations in the Latrobe Valley.

“The Andrews Government said it would help support jobs in the timber industry in Gippsland by investing in new plantations”, Mr O’Brien said.

“This $110 million has been sitting in a bank vault somewhere doing nothing while the Government continues to drag its feet.

“Questions asked to the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions last week highlighted that a market-led process that began last year is still not complete and there will be no new plantations until winter of 2022.

“That will be a full five years after the Government fist allocated this money and way too late to assist with the Government’s so-called transition out of native hardwood harvesting.”

The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region Melina Bath said the Government was continually failing workers and the timber industry in Gippsland.

“The decision to close the native timber hardwood industry by 2030 is a disaster, but it is compounded by Labor’s inability to meet its own commitments by establishing more timber plantations,” Ms Bath said.

“So far the Government has only facilitated 500ha of plantations and that is on land was previously under plantations managed by the private sector.

“The transition process that this Government has developed is a sham and the losers will be Gippsland and Gippsland timber workers, especially those in the Latrobe Valley.

“We want to see our strong, viable native timber industry continue and more plantations, but the Labor Government has completely bungled the process.

“It’s time the Government stopped making excuses and actually showed us what it plans to do to get more fibre available for our local timber mills and the workers that rely on it.

“We already have massive shortages of timber in the construction industry and closing the native hardwood sector will only exacerbate the problems and lead to more unsustainable imports in the future.”

 

6 July 2021

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