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Crossbench federal MPs urged to visit Gippsland timber towns to learn of Victorian government ignorance and hypocrisy first hand

Concerns raised about social, economic, and environmental impacts of a nationwide ban on native hardwood harvesting. Importance of skilled timber workers emphasised for fire management and community support.

By news@gippsland - 2nd June 2023 - Back to News

Crossbench MPs calling for a ban on all native hardwood harvesting in Australia have been challenged to actually visit a timber town and learn about the world-class and sustainable industry. Federal Shadow Minister for Regional Development Darren Chester said the statement released by some crossbench MPs reeked of ignorance and hypocrisy.

Crossbench MPs urged to visit timber town, learn about sustainable industry. Shadow Minister criticises their opportunistic call for nationwide ban

Crossbench MPs urged to visit timber town, learn about sustainable industry. Shadow Minister criticises their opportunistic call for nationwide ban

Privileged MPs arrogant superiority

Mr Chester said, "Today we witnessed some MPs from the most privileged suburbs of Australia seeking to sack workers with some of the lowest household incomes in the nation based on their total ignorance of the native hardwood timber industry. Listening to city-based Teals, Greens and Independent MPs calling for an end to the harvesting of all native timber from the comfort of their suburban electorates was a master-class in sanctimony."

"They believe they are morally superior to my constituents who actually work in the timber industry and provide outstanding hardwood timber products which adorn suburban homes, sporting stadiums, and nationally-significant public buildings. Rather than ignorantly lecturing my timber families, I extend an open invitation to any of the crossbenchers to visit Gippsland, meet industry and community leaders, and get a first hand appreciation of the way they manage the bush for a sustainable industry," he said.

Import alternative

Mr Chester said it was opportunistic for the crossbenchers to attempt to use Premier Dan Andrews' heartless ban on the Victorian industry to call for a nation-wide ban. "Families are still coming to grips with the Dan-made disaster in Victoria that will have massive social, economic, environmental and cultural impacts. Anyone who has bothered to do some research would know the native hardwood timber industry has changed dramatically over the past 30 years across regional Australia."

"It's now a sophisticated, world-class and environmentally-sustainable industry that supports Australian jobs, protects our communities and wildlife from bushfires, and reduces our carbon footprint. Surely the crossbenchers can understand the alternative to harvesting local timber on a long-term rotational basis is to import more timber from countries with poorer environmental protocols."

"We already import more than $5 billion of timber products from developing nations and that figure would only increase if this simplistic concept is supported by the Prime Minister. A sustainable native hardwood timber industry is part of the answer to reducing Australia's carbon emissions as timber products sequester carbon in our floorboards, furniture and other timber products. Re-growing trees can increase and maintain the role of forests as carbon sinks and is the ultimate renewable resource," Mr Chester said.

Disastrous lock-up

Mr Chester also highlighted his concerns for country communities if skilled timber workers were forced out of their jobs. "Operating heavy equipment in a bush environment takes skill and they are a critical resource during the fire season. All of the Black Summer bushfires in Victoria started on public land that had incredibly high fuel loads after decades of mismanagement due to a chronic lack of staff, resources, and commitment to protecting our communities."

"Lock it up and leave it, is not an environmental policy, it's a recipe for disaster. We need people living in regional towns and providing active forest management which allows for multiple uses such as camping, hiking, prospecting, bee-keeping, fishing and a sustainable native hardwood timber industry."

"The skills of the timber industry workers should be utilised further to maintain forest access roads and strategic fire breaks around critical assets, like water catchments, towns and highways, with the timber harvested for the benefit of everyone," Mr Chester said.

Pictures from Darren Chester MP website.


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