Member of Lions Club – State Parliament
No consultation with timber industry on trail
Agriculture Minister, Jaclyn Symes has confirmed the Government did not consult with the local timber industry prior to announcing funding for plans for the proposed Sea to Summit trail, while also conceding it will almost certainly impact on the timber industry.
Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull specifically asked what consultation had occurred with the industry pre-announcement and where and when this occurred, but the Minister did not provide a response.
The reason according to Mr Bull is it did not occur.
He then asked the Minister if the proposed trail would have any impact on currently allocated timber harvesting areas, to which the Minister replied “timber harvesting operations may need to be modified”.
Mr Bull said he asked a further question - if there would be no nett loss of resource to the industry?
“I asked this because if areas had to be reserved from what was previously harvestable area, I thought it only fair it be replaced with resource freed up from other locations to protect our local industry jobs.
“This is not just my view, it is also the unanimous view of the East Gippsland Shire Council.
“Unfortunately Minister Symes was completely non-committal and only said ‘a range of options will need to be considered to manage the impact of timber harvesting on the proposed trail. These actions may include postponing timber harvesting in specific coupes, increasing the distance between the trail and the coupe, or reshaping the coupe area’.
“The fact she ignored the question completely in her response, only indicates to me that under her plan, if this goes ahead, the timber industry loses out again.
“I am quite open to this walk proceeding and if the community determines it will be a benefit and bring visitors, that is great and worthy of support, but it should not be a situation where the timber industry and its workers get shafted yet again.
“Much of the proposed walk is along old logging tracks, so the surrounding forests have been logged over the past 40-50 years.
“One proposal that has been put to me was that if the trail proceeds it would be an opportunity to demonstrate how the forest has multiple uses with information boards along the route explaining, where relevant, the effects of fire with or without logging and the different stages: from newly harvested, regeneration 10 years after harvesting and regeneration 40 years after harvesting.
“And when the walk gets into the Errinundra National Park it would describe untouched conservation forests. It was simply an idea that was put to my office in some detail and could be discussed.
“Regardless, the government should be sitting down with the sector and working out a win – win situation where it can have this trail and the industry maintains its overall harvesting area, but I won’t support the timber workers and their families being whacked again.
“We have to stop this continual loss of resource to the industry as it only drives up timber imports from countries that have less robust environmental oversight,” he said.
Tuesday, March 26, 2019