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Gippsland communities, wildlife and jobs with be devastated as timber industry shut down by Andrews Labor government

Premier Dan Andrews' plan to close the timber industry will devastate communities, kill jobs, and harm wildlife. Labor neglects blue-collar workers for Greens policies, ignoring the importance of sustainable timber and forest management.

By news@gippsland - 23rd May 2023 - Back to News

Labor's lack of support for the timber industry has resulted in job losses, closing down completely hurts rural communities and hinders carbon reduction efforts

Labor's lack of support for the timber industry has resulted in job losses, closing down completely hurts rural communities and hinders carbon reduction efforts

Neglecting timber communities

Gutless Victorian Labor MPs should have stood up for blue collar workers and protected their jobs from these inner city Greens policies. Last year the Prime Minister tweeted after speaking at the Australian Forest Products Association dinner in Canberra: "We want a thriving and a sustainable timber industry, one that provides jobs and drives down our emissions for years to come."

After a year in government, the Prime Minister hasn't lifted a finger to support Victorian timber communities and the families that will lose their income as a result of this decision. There's no compensation package that can replace the bush skills, heritage, community spirit and economic value of the native hardwood timber industry.

The combined impacts of judicial activism, environmental protests, green law fare, and an abject failure of the Victorian Labor government to support our world class and environmentally sustainable native hardwood timber industry is devastating regional communities.

Neglecting blue-collar workers

Every worker who loses their job, every family facing financial stress and the difficult decision to leave the community they love, has just one man to blame, Premier Dan Andrews and a Labor Party that doesn't care about blue collar workers. The native hardwood timber industry has changed dramatically over the past 30 years. 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.

The alternative to harvesting local timber on a long-term rotational basis is to import more timber from countries with poorer environmental protocols. The demand for hardwood timber is still there and Victoria will need to import wood to even build flooring for the Commonwealth Games indoor sporting centres.

Labor's failure to support the timber industry has already cost hundreds of jobs in Gippsland with Australian Paper no longer producing white copy paper. The announcement that a complete closure will be brought forward to January 1, 2024 is a kick in the guts to all country people who care about the future of small communities.

Carbon sequestration benefits

A sustainable Victorian 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.

In Victoria, our most environmentally important forest areas are already protected with 3.367 million hectares of conservation areas that can never be harvested. We can all be proud of the fact that all Victorian old growth forest areas are already protected, enhancing biodiversity in our regions. Every tree that is harvested by the timber industry is regrown, by law, and VicForests harvests and regenerates approximately 3000 hectares each year from multiple-use public forests.

Apart from the 21,000 jobs, which are essential for country towns across Victoria and the furniture industry in Melbourne, the skills of Gippsland timber industry workers help to keep us safe during bushfires and if the industry is shut down, they will be lost forever.

Integrated forest management

All of the Black Summer bushfires 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. We need active forest management in our region 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.

We need more boots and less suits. That's more boots on the ground doing fuel reduction and other practical environmental work, and less suits in Melbourne making excuses, and stupid politically-motivated decisions which endanger the lives of locals and visitors. The Victorian Premier is demonstrating once again that if you vote Labor, you get Greens policies. Melbourne Labor Ministers continue to sell out blue collar workers in Gippsland to secure Greens votes in the city.

Pictures from Darren Chester Facebook page.


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