Labor must step up for timber industry
Victoria’s timber industry has been given a glimmer of hope in the latest report into the Leadbeater’s Possum protection measures but the Andrews Labor Government now needs to step up.
The review of the effectiveness and impact of timber harvesting exclusion zones around Leadbeater's Possum colonies has finally been released after months of delay.
The review confirmed:
• More possums have been detected than expected.
• More than 90 per cent of the possum’s potential, or most likely occupied, habitat in the Central Highlands has never been surveyed.
• There is only limited data on the number of Leadbeater’s Possum colonies and habitat in Victoria’s National Parks and reserves.
• Further field studies across all land tenures are urgently required.
• VicForests has suffered $14 million in lost revenue as a result of the zones, and timber availability has been forecast to reduce by 65,000 cubic metres.
Comments attributable to Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh
“If the timber industry is going to survive, the Andrews Government must rapidly change its policy direction and accept that the Leadbeater’s Possum and a viable forestry sector can co-exist.
“Daniel Andrews must decide if he’s backing a $7 billion industry that support up to 50,000 jobs across Victoria, or if he’s going to sacrifice all of that in order to save a couple of inner city Labor seats with Greens preferences next election.”
Comments attributable to Member for Gippsland East Tim Bull
“There are now 618 confirmed Leadbeater’s Possum colonies, a huge increase on numbers two years ago, and that’s just from looking in a relatively small area of general public forest.
“The Andrews Government must urgently get on with recommended comprehensive survey work across all landscapes because this review makes it crystal clear past population estimates were grossly inadequate and have distorted public debate.
“The future of thousands of jobs in Victoria’s forest industry are in the hands of Daniel Andrews. Will he action the recommendations of this review, or will he continue his stealth campaign to create the Great Forest National Park in the hope of saving his own skin?”
Wednesday, July 12, 2017
Mill questions remain unanswered
Gippsland East MP, Tim Bull, has said some key details on yesterday's Heyfield Mill announcement were yet to be fully explained and the State Government needed to provide clarity for the workers, their families and the Heyfield community.
"There are a number of details and questions the Minister needs to provide answers to, as they either weren't covered off on, or were completely avoided when asked,” Mr Bull said.
These questions include:
1. If timber supply to Heyfield is being reduced to a little more than half of what it is now (down to 80,000 cubic metres), how can all the 250 jobs be retained as you say they will? Please explain how that will be achieved on a greatly reduced timber supply.
2. When you say "obviously the mill will need to be restructured due to reduced timber supply", Minister, what does this mean (for jobs in particular)?
3. Mill management stated that one full shift will be lost next year with the reduced timber supply, but you say all 250 jobs are being retained. How can a shift be removed, but all jobs retained?
4. When you say all jobs will be retained in the "transition stage", how long is this and will all the 250 jobs be there in October next year?
"The reason the detail has not been provided and the questions ignored is because there will be significant job losses as a result of this decision and the Minister needs to come clean with the people of Heyfield and East Gippsland," Mr Bull said.
Caption: Gippsland East MP Tim Bull in Heyfield yesterday answering questions on the mill. He says it's now time the Government provided some specific responses.
Tuesday, July 4, 2017
Jobs to go at Heyfield
The Government’s announcement on the Heyfield Mill today poses more questions than it provides answers, says Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull.
"It’s particularly concerning when mill workers advise both myself and the media they have been told there will be job losses and redundancies after the transition to the new ownership,” Mr Bull said.
Mr Bull said the Government's claim that “no jobs (will be) lost in transition” gave no security beyond the next 2-3 months.
"When asked about longer-term job security, the Minister simply does not answer and all she says is 'we know the industry needs to change', which is hardly comforting,” he said.
"The reality is you cannot cut the timber supply almost in half and keep all the jobs.
"It’s a disgrace the Minister has said this is a 'great day for Heyfield' and a 'great relief' for workers when the Andrews Government has led a process that will result in significant job losses in the town."
Mr Bull said it was disappointing the Government did not even visit Heyfield today, instead doing a press conference on the mill in Churchill.
"Daniel Andrews needs to come clean and admit he is overseeing the loss of 100-plus jobs. The people of East Gippsland are not stupid and will see through these hollow lines,” he said.
"More timber allocation needs to be made and that is what we will do in government, because as VicForests has said, the timber is there, the reason the allocation has been reduced is predominantly what has been put into leadbeater possum reserve and what is forecast to go into leadbeater possum reserve in the future under the current regulations.
"That’s the Government’s own agency saying that on the record, not the Opposition.
“While at the end of the day the mill will remain open, it is incredibly disappointing that not all jobs were saved as they could easily have been.”
Caption: Gippsland East and Gippsland South Nationals MP’s Tim Bull and Danny O’Brien speak with media following the Government’s announcement regarding Australian Sustainable Hardwoods in Heyfield this morning.
Monday, July 3, 2017