The Nationals leader and Shadow Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh said the Andrews Labor Government clearly wants to destroy Victoria’s native timber industry – and is “chopping down everyone and everything standing in its way” to do it.
Mr Walsh said linked to this unicorn policy are the thousands of lives of those working directly in the timber industry and behind them their families and the communities being devastated by this “ridiculously uninformed” strategy.
He said the Andrews Labor government has set a target of 2030 to shut down this industry.
“Financial assistance to force the industry to ‘transition’ to plantation has been exposed as a joke; it’s just scraps off the table, with new reports today revealing the Andrews Labor Government’s assistance package is capped at a measly $23,000,” Mr Walsh said.
“That’s not going to transition anything; it is just an insult to the generations of families who have been the cornerstone of this industry,” he added.
“And as if that’s not bad enough, the Andrews brains trust has reached for the salt – to rub it into the wound – by announcing timber harvesting equipment purchased at a cost of $1 million, will be compensated at a value of $250,000.
“The Labor Government’s package would see timber industry employees walk away with $7000. This does nothing to assist workers transition into a new line of work; and offers no assistance in putting food on the table for these hardworking families.”
Mr Walsh also slammed the government’s “weasel words” at a time when Labor’s policies were putting regional jobs, local businesses and small communities through the wood chipper.
“Generations of Victorians have worked hard to build our local native timber industry into a sector with a strong reputation for sustainability and clean, green products,” he added.
“But Daniel Andrews and his Labor Government are hellbent on destroying it, all to secure green preferences in inner city Melbourne.
“It’s not only local people and businesses that will suffer – the flow-on impacts down the line will be devastating.
“Tens of thousands of Victorian jobs rely on a reliable supply of sustainability harvested, high quality Victorian native timber to create furniture or building materials such as window frames, doors and flooring.
“It will also have impacts for consumers at a time when Victorians are conscious of buying Australian-made, sustainably-sourced products.
“Killing off our local industry won’t kill off demand. But it will mean more imports from countries without Australia’s high environmental and ethical standards.”
Member for Eastern Victoria, Melina Bath, said shocking revelations last week saw the Andrews Labor Government confirm for the first time that its ‘plan’ to transition the native timber industry to plantation was a sham.
Ms Bath said the Agriculture Minister’s overdue admission there won’t be enough supply in 2030 to meet demand; left thousands of jobs facing the axe.
“These jobs are vitally important for Gippsland families and our regional economies – Labor’s timber ban will hit our communities hard,” she said.
“We can’t afford to lose this industry, which is why the Liberals and Nationals have committed to reversing this ban if elected to Government in 2022.”