The Nationals leader and Member for Murray Plains, Peter Walsh, is urgently calling for an immediate reopening of the domestic firewood collection season.
Mr Walsh says with the late and protracted winter – combined with the punitive energy taxes introduced by Daniel Andrews to shore up his bankrupt government – too many people in regional Victoria are going cold because they cannot afford to heat their homes.
He says The Nationals have written to the government outlining the present shortage of firewood supply, which for many in our community, is their sole source of heating this winter.
And when it is reopened there need to be sites within reach of every regional Victorian.
“There is a range of factors causing the shortage, but the most damaging has to be the shutdown of the timber industry due to legal action,” Mr Walsh added.
“This has restricted access to commercial supplies for the many residents who rely on these providers,” he says.
“As a result, commercial operators who can get access to timber are doing so through other avenues, with a lot of them heading into NSW. Our commercial contractors need more support. This ridiculous situation has also created a thriving black market in illegal wood.
“This has all driven up costs considerably, putting the resource financially out of reach for even those who can access a supply.”
Mr Walsh says with many senior residents relying on solid fuel heating, he is hearing of an increasing number of cases where they are shivering through the nights due to firewood either not being accessible at all or being too costly to purchase.
And adds even for those with an alternate power heating source, electricity prices are making it unaffordable, so pensioners and low-income households are not using this alternative.
“This is socioeconomic targeting, even Daniel Andrews can surely understand the damage this is doing to some of the more vulnerable parts of our communities, but he doesn’t seem to give a damn if it guarantees him support from inner-city greens,” Mr Walsh says.
“Public firewood collection is closed in winter each year, due to concerns about potential damage being caused during wet periods, but there is far more damage being done behind the closed doors of far too many homes and an immediate re-opening of the season would provide a solution for many in this predicament,” he says.