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Latrobe City Council explores support for affected workers and advocates economic diversification for Gippsland timber industry

The Latrobe City Council recognizes the timber industry contributions to the local economy, they aim to explore options and provide support for affected workers.

By news@gippsland - 14th June 2023 - Back to News

Latrobe City Council recognises the significant contributions the timber industry has made to our local economy and the fabric of our community. The timber industry has been an integral part of our community for generations, with the Maryvale Mill a cornerstone for Latrobe City's economic landscape for over 85 years. In the past week there has been concern amongst the community, along with ill informed commentary relating to the failure to pass a proposed motion at this month's council meeting.

During this crucial moment, council urges our community to unite, show empathy, and stand in unwavering support of our timber industry workers and their families

During this crucial moment, council urges our community to unite, show empathy, and stand in unwavering support of our timber industry workers and their families

Collaborative approach

Some have interpreted this as council's endorsement of the Victorian government's Native Forest Logging policy. This is incorrect. In debating the considered Notice of Motion, council acknowledged the far-reaching consequences for those impacted by the cessation of native timber harvesting and the broader effect this will have on our community and our local economy.

Debate focused on council advocating for a more productive and collaborative approach to support transition - jobs and the Gippsland economy. Failure of the motion now provides council with the opportunity to workshop all options, and to take a much wider view of the consequences of the dramatic shortening of the logging access period for Victorian state forests.

These workshops will include ongoing advocacy and consultation with Unions, Forest Industry Associations, Victorian government Departments, and fellow Gippsland councils to explore options that may exist for logging to continue, and the effectiveness of schemes proposed to aid those affected. Solutions for businesses that have invested in now unusable assets will be examined, as will long term employment options for displaced logging workers.

Impact of the closure

Right now, council's most important focus continues to be on the impacted workers and their families. We must address future employment opportunities for the over 300 locals who will shortly be facing unemployment relating to Paper Industry cutbacks, along with the expected job losses across supply chain businesses and related industries that rely on the timber industry for employment.

As we saw with the closure of the Hazelwood Power Station and Mine, the transition away from industry is not a straightforward process, it is vital that affected individuals are provided with the necessary support and resources to navigate this challenging period.

The mistakes of the closure of Hazelwood must not be repeated. We must unite and work together to provide those impacted with a path forward, something to plan around, and to be confident about their futures. Therefore, we will actively pursue opportunities for economic diversification and job creation in collaboration with relevant stakeholders.

Transition, investment and growth

The Victorian government has outlined their support packages, but more can be done to create security. We call upon the Victorian government to work collaboratively with the timber industry and affected communities to find viable and sustainable solutions that prioritise both environmental conservation and the welfare of timber industry workers including those employed at the Maryvale Mill. It is essential to ensure a just transition for those impacted by this decision, offering support, retraining and alternative
employment opportunities.

This is the time we must work in conjunction with Our Transition plan to ensure strategic investment is made for the liveability and prosperity of our City. We call on the Victorian government to move to support the attraction of new industry, to enable economic activity and growth in regional and rural Victoria, with a particular focus on Latrobe and broader Gippsland.

Council will continue to actively advocate and garner support on behalf of the community, engaging with government authorities, industry stakeholders, and community representatives to seek pathways for the revitalisation and diversification of our economy. Following an invite extended by The Hon Darren Chester MP, Federal Member for Gippsland, earlier this month, Latrobe City Council Mayor, Councillor Kellie O'Callaghan will join with local Council Mayors to meet with government and opposition Members of Parliament.

Gratitude, advocacy and resilience

We thank the Federal Member for Gippsland for the opportunity to participate in the delegation, where we will continue to advocate for an equitable transition of our region's changing industry landscape. We will also seek solutions to these issues that rest with the Victorian and Commonwealth governments because of policy changes.

We believe in the resilience and potential of our community to adapt and thrive, even in the face of significant challenges. We will continue to fight for their voices to be heard, and for the creation of a sustainable and prosperous future for our City.

At this critical juncture, we call upon our community to come together, supporting one another with empathy and understanding. Let us stand united with our timber industry workers and their families, offering our unwavering support during this period of transition. We remain shoulder to shoulder with timber workers, their families, and communities.

Pictures from Latrobe City Council Facebook page.


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