Final timber offer appalling

The State Government’s final offer to those impacted by the timber industry closure was announced this week and disappointingly shows little improvement on the draft proposal, falling significantly short of what anyone would think is a fair and reasonable exit package.

This is the view of Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, who outlined just some of the shortfalls of a process he says has been done on the run and has not considered all elements of the situation.

“Firstly, disappointingly there has been no improvement in the base offer to harvest and haulage contractors, which is a pittance when you compare it to other recent industry departure packages.

“Secondly, the element of machinery reimbursement is that it is now capped at $1 million per business. Many have machinery well in excess of this figure and if they choose to exit the industry, there will be a shortfall. This is unfair and the government should not have a per business cap on this element of the package.

22 December 2023

“Thirdly, the package that has been put together for flow on impacted businesses, like seed collectors or freight companies that are not haulage contractors, has no dollars attached, or details process to determine what amount they will receive. That should be finalised by now.

“Fourthly, the packages have been framed so that those who choose to stay on and work for the Government will not get the full exit package, when in fact it should be treated separately. They should be compensated for being kicked out of the native timber industry and then be able to make a decision on Government employment separately. They should not be linked, and this is holding these families over a barrel.

“Finally, there is no tax exemption on the package amounts, meaning those who receive it will lose a considerable amount in tax, so the amount of the package is not really and accurate figure of financial benefit.”

Mr Bull said there were other elements that were unfair and lacked detail and said he held a view the government’s shortfall and stingy response was all based on the fact the exit package was being forced to stick to an inadequate budget.

“It’s a symptom of the State being broke due to the fact Labor can’t manage money, can’t manage major projects and Victorians continue to pay the price.”