The employment of East Gippsland forest contractors facing an uncertain future has been addressed by a $1.27 million Coalition Government program to restore and improve degraded forest areas. Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, said the new funding announcement was a major win for harvest and haulage contractors.
“These contractors were facing unemployment as a result of Labor’s 2009 decision to convert 45,000 hectares of forest into new and expanded parks and reserves,” Mr Bull said.
“It promised no net job losses would result, but that was simply not the case.
Mr Bull said the decision was the result of months of lobbying on behalf of experienced local foresters.
“The funding will enable contracting of local forestry workers to manage a forest restoration and improvement program,” Mr Bull said.
“The program will increase the productive capacity of low yielding and degraded forests in the region.
“By undertaking silvicultural thinnings and other improvements, targeted areas will experience improved growth of trees and timber for future commercial harvesting.
“This is a clear sign of the Coalition Government’s commitment to forest jobs and a long-term sustainable timber industry for East Gippsland.”
Mr Bull said the decision would restore the confidence of local timber workers and their families which had been jeopardised by the actions of the former Labor Government.
“Labor sold out local forest workers when it locked up more areas of what was productive forest,” Mr Bull said.
“East Gippsland would have suffered economically and socially from Labor’s policies, but the Coalition Government has stepped in to support the region.
“VicForests is finalising the current harvest and haulage tender process at the moment and once that is finalised will work directly with local contractors who may have the capacity and willingness to contribute to this new program,” Mr Bull said.
Mr Bull thanked Parliamentary Secretary for Forestry and Fisheries, Gary Blackwood and Minister for Agriculture and Food Security, Peter Walsh for their work in supporting this new program in East Gippsland.