The Nationals leader and Member for Murray Plains, Peter Walsh, says the woodchop – and true icon of the Australian bush – is being sacrificed on the altar of Andrews Labor Government indifference as it continues to fail Victoria’s native timer industry.
Mr Walsh says almost 150 years of this genuine bush sport, which is a hallmark event at everything from the Royal Melbourne Show to the one-day annual shows in scores of little country towns scattered across the state, is now at risk of disappearing.
He says even though the Bracks Labor government guaranteed woodchoppers would always have logs, the Andrews Labor government’s desperation to shore up the Greens vote how shown the true value of a Labor Party promise.
“This isn’t just about all those little shows, Australia is the world woodchop champion, we stand tall on the global stage, and Daniel Andrews wants to cut all that off at the knees for the latte crowd of inner Melbourne,” Mr Walsh added.
“Log supply for the Victorian Axemen’s Council (VAC) upcoming woodchopping events are in jeopardy and without hardwood logs, Victorian athletes will be unable to compete at this most traditional of Australian sports,” he says.
“A court order limiting timber harvesting in areas managed by VicForests means the council does not have enough logs to supply Victoria’s woodchopping events.
“In my electorate the Rosenow family is just one of many steeped in the proud history of this sport. Originally redgum sleeper cutters, Doug Rosenow has told me of his parents, uncles, and grandparents all being part of the competitive woodchop scene.
“His is both horrified and despondent at the way these arbitrary decisions are being made in Melbourne by people with no idea of the ripple effect of badly-designed policies designed not for effective in-the-field management but for effective behind-the-scenes political support.”
Mr Walsh says with more than 100 events are run each year across the state drawing skilled competitors from all over Australia this is a crisis for the sport.
He says you only have to look at the large crowds woodchopping events attract at shows – invariably it is standing room only – and competitive athletes are highly trained and it’s devastating their sport “is being diminished through green lawfare”.
“The Nationals have made a commitment to Brad Meyer, the president of the VAC, to fight for the sport,” Mr Walsh says.
“It would be a crying shame to lose this tradition from our regional shows and events in Victoria. Woodchopping is a major drawcard, and it attracts international competitors.
“The Andrews Labor Government’s cannot continue to sit on its hands and turn a blind eye, it must come up with a workable solution – now.”