Minister must end timber uncertainty
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Minister must end timber uncertainty

The Forest Industry Taskforce’s long-awaited ‘statement of intent’, released last week, has provided only more uncertainty for the region’s timber industry, according to State Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull.

“The Taskforce was to have outlined a way forward for the sector by July, when the ‘statement of intent’ was originally due, but having waited until September – 10 months after the Taskforce was formed – we hear it has not reached any consensus or pathway forward at all,” Mr Bull said.

“Despite being falsely headlined as having reached a ‘major milestone’, the statement of intent includes comments such as ‘the taskforce is working hard to try and resolve this long running debate’ and ‘we are trying to reach an outcome’.

“The problem here is that Minister Pulford has repeatedly stated she will not allow any new long-term timber sale agreements until she has received the Taskforce’s recommendations.

“The inability of the Taskforce to reach consensus and the Minister hiding behind this and refusing to allow important decisions to be made is creating enormous uncertainty for the sector.

“Not only are decisions around resource allocation not being made, but companies will not invest in this situation of great uncertainty. Auswest is one company that has expressed its willingness to invest, but they need security.

“Both myself and Upper House member, Melina Bath, have continually brought this to the Minister’s attention, but she seems to not care about the sector by being prepared to leave it in limbo with its future clouded.

“Minister Pulford needs to take action. If the Taskforce she appointed could not come to a consensus on a way forward by an extended deadline, she must now allow decisions to be made to secure the future of the industry in East Gippsland, or she will be solely responsible for its demise.

“What we are talking about here is jobs in our communities. These families have mortgages and children to raise and the Minister owes them the courtesy of some security after 10 months of inaction,” Mr Bull said.


Thursday, September 15, 2016