Forestry

Labor still not prepared to put East Gippsland jobs first

Wednesday 20 September 2017

 

The Heyfield mill might be open, but the Andrews Labor Government continues to refuse to guarantee 250 jobs will remain at the mill.

Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh and The Nationals Member for Gippsland East Tim Bull have called on Daniel Andrews to urgently reassure mill workers and the Heyfield community that all remaining jobs are safe.

Mr Walsh said the mill also needed certainty past the current three-year contract offer.

“While it is a relief for the Heyfield community that the mill won’t close, it is cold comfort when Daniel Andrews’ decisions brought the mill to its knees in the first place,” Mr Walsh said.

“Labor must guarantee mill workers and the community there will be no job losses and that the mill has a future beyond the current three-year contract.

“The Premier for Melbourne still hasn’t set foot in Heyfield, most likely too ashamed because locals know he’s put Greens preferences and his own job ahead of mill workers’ jobs and this community.”

Asked in Parliament about the cost to taxpayers, Special Minister for State Gavin Jennings, who led the transition process, refused to admit the price of the deal.

He would only say the Government had a “controlling share” of the mill.

Mr Bull said the community wanted to know what stake the Government had in the mill and if all remaining jobs would still be retained after one shift of more than 20 had already been lost.

“Rather than do more press conferences from the steps of Spring Street, the Government should travel down to Heyfield and address our concerns,” Mr Bull said.

“It was absolutely galling to hear a senior Labor Minister claim today it was a ‘unilateral decision of the owners to walk away from the mill’.

“The Heyfield mill was forced towards closure by the Andrews Labor Government’s refusal to guarantee timber supply because they are scared of losing inner-city seats to the Greens at next year’s election.

“The mill didn’t need new owners, it needed a government prepared to put East Gippsland jobs first.”

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