THE Nationals leader and Member for Murray Plains, Peter Walsh, has condemned a decision by the Victorian Government to leave a massive slice of Victoria without any immediate access to firewood collection.
Mr Walsh this week told Parliament it is going to be a very cold winter this year for all the households in northern Victoria who rely on firewood for heating “because the Andrews Government has effectively excluded all those households from Echuca to the SA border from being able to go and collect firewood”.
He said even though there are hundreds of hectares nearby that are more than suitable for collecting firewood, the government, via the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, could not have planned a bigger mess if it tried.
“For those in Echuca it is more than an hour trip to the nearest firewood collection site,” Mr Walsh added.
“And if you live in Ouyen, well, for you it becomes one and a half hours,” he said.
“Also, make no mistake, the many people in northern Victoria who collect firewood for their own use don’t do it for a fun day out they do it out of economic necessity.
“They do it because of the excessive burden of power bills or the high cost of bottled gas.”
Mr Walsh asked why a pensioner in Murray Plains who was struggling with the cost to heat their homes now had to have a two- or three-hour round trip to get their firewood.
“I ask Lily D’Ambrosio, the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, to have a heart, and to show some compassion for all those northern Victorians who will shiver their way through winter this year,” he added.
“Minister; have a look at the map of the firewood collection sites and personally see how far people have to travel to get their firewood.
“You must revisit the number of collection points for firewood in northern Victoria; so our pensioners and financially-stressed members of the community don’t have to travel so far to get their firewood.
“There is plenty of fallen dead timber on public land across northern Victoria, it just needs the Minister to step in and make sure these areas are listed as firewood collection points for those people who so desperately need firewood for heating this winter.”