Brickworks, the parent company of Auswest Timbers, which has facilities based in Orbost and Bairnsdale, has threatened to close its East Gippsland operations due to the inaction of the Andrews Labor Government on providing timber supply security.
This would have a devastating impact on jobs in East Gippsland with 40 employed in Orbost and 25 in Bairnsdale and many more indirect jobs.
In its annual report, Brickworks states:
“After many years of negotiation, the Victorian state government continues to frustrate efforts to make the required investments in our East Gippsland timber mills, by denying certainty of log supply. “These operations now have only nine months’ supply contracted, with no clarity being provided beyond that term. “As one of the largest employers in this region, these investments would provide an important boost for the local community, as well as enabling Auswest to cost effectively meet the strong demand for product from these mills. “However, if an acceptable log contract is unable to be secured, the East Gippsland facilities will be closed.”
State Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, said he had raised the matter several times in Parliament, but the Minister, Jaala Pulford, would not take any action, simply saying she was waiting for her Forest Industry Taskforce (FIT) to make recommendations.
“It is time for action. If the Minister continues to do nothing, she will be responsible for the loss of 65 direct jobs and many more indirect jobs in East Gippsland, which would have a massive impact on our local economy,” Mr Bull said.
“The problem here is, the FIT was meant to report back in July but instead has only just released a statement saying they have reached no consensus on this issue. The Taskforce hasn’t delivered on done the job it was asked to do in the required timeframe.
“As I have said to the Minister through formal correspondence and in Parliament – she now needs to step in as we have reached crisis time with the company threatening to walk away because of her inaction,” Mr Bull said.
Thursday, October 27, 2016