As we enter December with the timber industry to close in four weeks, Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, has blasted the Labor State Government for its inexcusable treatment of timber families.
“As it sits, we have four weeks until the closure and the government has not provided even the most basic information, and the Premier and Minister for Agriculture are now backtracking on their commitment to meet with industry representatives, attempting to push it off to lower-level bureaucrats.
The major issues are:
• For those who want to stay on and work in fire control for DEECA, there is no information on where this work will be, what the pay is and what machinery will be required. How can they make a decision?
• Government correspondence indicates those who accept this work will not receive their full departure package payment. This should be treated separately as they are being forced to change jobs.
• Despite committing to meet with harvest and haulage contractors herself, the Premier (and Minister) are now trying to push this off to bureaucrats.
• The Allan Labor Government has not yet decided on a final base departure package with the current base offer being well below what is acceptable.
• The Allan Labor Government has not formally overturned in writing its decision that machinery over 10 years old will be included in compensation, when we have a number of harvest and haulage contractors with valuable machines over 10 years old that they cannot sell due to there now being no market.
• Machinery under 10 years old will only be compensated up to the limits of the package allocation – this needs to be uncapped to allow fair compensation.
• It is still a requirement for employers to fund the retraining of staff, when the government said it would do this.
“This was a decision made on the run that makes no environmental sense and is just Labor bowing to the Greens,” said Mr Bull.
“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has clearly stated building with wood is the biggest climate change mitigation measure we can take, and goes on to say we should be using a balance of plantation and native forest. No old growth is harvested in Victoria, only regrowth.
“What is going to occur is consumers are going to keep buying hardwood because that is what they are told to do as the most effective climate change measure, but we will now have it coming from countries with less oversight, harvesting old growth that is not replanted.
“Last year, I took the time to sit down with one city Green MP to explain this and he just looked at me across the coffee table and said he could not provide an answer to that scenario, so they do not even really understand the background of what they are campaigning for,” said Mr Bull.
Monday, 27 November 2023