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Nationals slam Allen Labor government for unfair and inadequate compensation to Gippsland timber workers

The government compensation offer overlooks debts, doesn't aid livelihoods, causing contractor uncertainty and community disruption. Termed 'shameful' and 'insulting,' it neglects fairness, scrutinising the industry's struggle.

By news@gippsland - 4th December 2023 - Back to News

The Nationals have slammed the Labor government for offering native timber workers "appalling and inadequate compensation payouts" at the industry's death knell. Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Public Land Use and Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath labelled Labor's compensation "anything but fair" and said, "it has left contractors, workers and their families bereft. Former Premier, Daniel Andrews said 'whatever it takes' after promising Labor will 'deliver a managed transition to support every worker and every business. Because we'll never leave them to go it alone.'

'Labor's offering is a case of double jeopardy and it's the final insulting blow to the native timber industry,' says Ms Bath

'Labor's offering is a case of double jeopardy and it's the final insulting blow to the native timber industry,' says Ms Bath

Compensation promise unmet

Ms Bath said, "Only weeks ago, Premier Allan committed to meeting with Australian Forestry Contractors Association (AFCA) to negotiate compensation but has failed to do so. The offer fails to acknowledge the enormous debt timber contractors owe on equipment purchased for a 2030 closure, that the Labor government reneged on. Labor has fallen well short of delivering adequate compensation for its forced loss of livelihood."

"Contractors are facing an uncertain future, loss of their life's work and potential displacement from their communities - fair payment of compensation is warranted. This offer is paltry recognition of the debt created for timber contractors by Labor," Ms Bath said.

Criticism over compensation

Offering harvest contractors only 30 cents in the dollar and haulage contractors 50 cents in the dollar on existing agreements. Those contractors who opt to transfer to DEECA firefighting receive nothing. Member for Morwell Martin Cameron criticised the Labor government, calling them "shameful" for their abandonment of contractors and workers.

"Labor's offering is a case of double jeopardy and it's the final insulting blow to the native timber industry. The Premier has shown a total disregard for timber workers, treating them as disposable. This so-called package was dropped late Friday following the last sitting week of the year to avoid all scrutiny of Labor, and it stinks," said Mr Cameron.

Tax fairness plea

The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath last week in State Parliament called on the Victorian Treasurer to work with the Commonwealth Treasurer to deliver a fairer tax regime on employee redundancy payments.

"Frustratingly employees are having their redundancies substantially diminished through taxation as Labor failed to ensure lump sum payments would not be adversely impacted. Labor's timber package is a complete cop out, it's certainly not fair compensation," Ms Bath said.

Pictures from Melina Bath MP Facebook page.


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