Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes has again refused to fight for jobs in Victoria’s timber communities – including those in her own electorate of Northern Victoria.
Federal Labor has slammed the Andrews Government’s plan to ban Victoria’s native timber industry by 2030, with Senator Raff Ciccone telling Parliament this week: “Every single one of these jobs is of value. Every single one is important and worth fighting for.”
Asked today in State Parliament to fight for these jobs, the Agriculture Minister bizarrely blamed diminishing timber supply on the coronavirus pandemic.
Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh said the only threat to Victoria’s responsible, sustainable native timber industry was the Andrews Labor Government.
“All that stands in the way of saving tens of thousands of jobs and this critical $7.32 billion industry is Daniel Andrews and his Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes,” Mr Walsh said.
“These jobs are the lifeblood of small timber communities in Gippsland and north-east Victoria – they won’t survive Labor’s ban.
“Even Daniel Andrews’ Federal Labor colleagues are questioning why Victorian Labor is destroying a sustainable, responsible industry and putting hardworking Victorians out of work.”
The Minister also refused to explain why she won’t meet with the seven harvest and haulage contractors in East Gippsland that have already experienced dozens of jobs losses.
In a slap in the face to the timber communities her Labor Government is destroying, Ms Symes complained she couldn’t find the time because “you don’t know how hard it is to be a Minister”.
“The Andrews Government is secretly starving the industry of timber which has already cost 100 jobs in East Gippsland and seen 80 machines left parked up in the yards because they can’t access timber coupes,” Mr Walsh said.
“With almost half a million in finance payments due every month on those machines that can’t work, Labor is forcing Gippsland’s timber industry to the wall, just to further its political agenda.”