Timber industry at tipping point after Dan’s delays
Friday 22 February 2019
Latrobe Valley timber contractors are furious the Andrews Labor Government continues to threaten the industry’s future by refusing to put out critical Timber Release Plans (TRPs).
Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh, Member for Eastern Victoria Melina Bath and Member for Narracan Gary Blackwood were in Traralgon today to meet with local contractors.
Mr Walsh said industry was calling on the Andrews Government to urgently put out the Plans, which are now eight months overdue.
“Daniel Andrews is quietly starving industry of timber supply, costing jobs in the Latrobe Valley and Gippsland and leaving local businesses with no confidence to invest,” Mr Walsh said.
“We’ve heard from people in the harvest and haulage sector who have equipment just sitting in the yards because the Andrews Government won’t sign the Timber Release Plans.
“Daniel Andrews claims he won’t play politics with timber jobs, but his words don’t match his actions.
“The timber is there, the only thing that’s missing is the Andrews Labor Government’s willingness to support Victoria’s timber jobs, businesses and communities.”
Ms Bath said industry had been waiting since July last year for the TRPs to be released.
“The former Agriculture Minister said back in May that the Plans would be released: “in coming weeks”, but eight months later workers and industry are still in the dark,” Ms Bath said.
“Instead of leadership and strategic direction the Andrews Labor Government is ringbarking this industry, leaving it to wither and die.”
Mr Blackwood said local workers and business owners were anxious about their future.
“While Daniel Andrews crushes confidence in the timber industry, local people who rely on it to support themselves and their family wake up every day not knowing if their job or business is secure,” Mr Blackwood said.
“The Andrews Government could end this uncertainty today by putting out the Timber Release Plans.”
Victoria has 7.8 million hectares of forests, and more than 94 per cent of that is either unsuitable or unavailable for timber harvest.
This includes 4.74 million hectares of native forest protected in national parks and conservation reserves.
Annually, Victoria’s timber industry has access to just 0.04 per cent or 3500 hectares or less of the forest estate, with trees replanted and regenerated once harvest is complete.