Leader of The Nationals and Member for Murray Plains, Peter Walsh, says regional Victoria’s Christmas has been thrown into chaos because the supply chain has all but run out of pallets.
Mr Walsh said it might sound laughable that the most basic item; such as a few pieces of wood nailed together; can have such an impact but he said the massive loads carried daily by the transport industry.
But he said the system was structured so everything – from chocolate and beer to vital medicines – have to be carried in bulk on something so they can be moved, lifted and loaded.
“And that,” Mr Walsh said, “means wooden pallets”.
“Regional Victoria will be hardest hit by these disruptions because suppliers will cater to the biggest markets first and we will get anything left over,” he said.
“And the longer the nation’s largest timber pallet manufacturer is denied access to timber; the longer – and the worse – this crisis will go.”
At the weekend, Mr Walsh visited Dormit, the Dandenong South business which would usually be providing 70,000 timber pallets per month to the supply chain for the transport of food and beverages, fresh produce and pharmaceuticals – within Victoria and interstate.
But he said access to the timber the company – and the state – needs has dried up with the Andrews Labor Government’s policies limiting access to timber’ along with multiple court injunctions that have locked out harvest and haulage operators in Gippsland and north-east Victoria.
“On top of that, another 40 regional jobs are now on the line in coming days if Labor fails to make timber available,” Mr Walsh added.
“The factory would usually be working up to six days a week to produce 70,000 timber pallets per month, but that’s dwindled to next-to-nothing and will come to a halt in days without a supply of new logs,” he said.
“Demand is through the roof for timber pallets, particularly over Christmas, when supermarkets increase their orders for food and drink.
“But the shortage has also got our farmers worried with the harvest of grapes and stone-fruit requiring a steady supply in the next few months to get fresh produce from the farm to wholesale markets in Melbourne and interstate.”
Without production of new pallets, the supply chain will grind to a halt.
The biggest demand for the pallets comes from food and beverage companies like Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) and Mars confectionary, along with all the major supermarkets.
Court injunctions and industry uncertainty, driven by Labor moving early to limit access to timber a decade ahead of its 2030 ban on native timber harvesting, is already stopping the supply of new logs.
“The Andrews Labor Government’s pandering to green activists has thrown the supply chain into crisis at the busiest time of the year,” Mr Walsh said.
“This shortage will be felt by everyone – from farmers, to transporters, to timber workers and businesses and right through to retailers and consumers.
“But Labor’s Agriculture Minister Mary-Anne Thomas is missing-in-action when she should be working round the clock to solve this crisis by opening up timber supply.”