The Andrews Government has completely abandoned forest workers in East Gippsland.
If it is not enough that they intend to end the industry by 2030 and destroy local economies, they have just passed a Bill to add a ‘strict liability’ clause to workers and companies.
‘Strict liability’ will mean that if an honest mistake is made, the accused will have to prove their innocence.
Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, said it was not accepted practice and meant penalties of more than $20,000 to an individual worker or more than $100,000 for a contractor or VicForests may apply.
“The unfairness of this is, we are now punishing one sector if an honest mistake is made. Imagine if a police car was in an unintended accident and they were charged?
“In the Legislative Council debate, Resources Minister Jaala Pulford replied with inconsistencies and misinformation when questioned by Coalition members,” said Mr Bull.
This Bill is being rushed through despite the impending substantial changes to the Code of Practice for Timber Production not being released.
The Australian Law Reform Commission has issued a number of principles, to be considered when applying “strict liability”. This Legislation does not satisfy any.
Mr Bull said the Bill passed on the slimmest of margins with the support of the Labor-voting independents Andy Meddick of the Animal Justice Party, Fiona Patten and the Greens, despite pleas from the timber workers, CFMEU and the Liberals and Nationals.
“It is interesting when you have the CFMEU and the Liberal Nationals Coalition on the same side recognising the issues here.
“Labor and the Greens will stop at nothing to do whatever they can to hurt our forestry sector and people in our regional communities like Orbost, Heyfield, Bairnsdale and Swift’s Creek should remember this come election time next year.
“I am very proud to say that the Liberals and Nationals and the majority of the crossbenchers stood firm,” he said.
Monday, October 11, 2021