Minister should explain Heyfield facts
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Minister should explain Heyfield facts

Victoria’s Agriculture Minister needs to visit Heyfield and explain the facts around job losses at Australian Sustainable Hardwoods (ASH), Parliament has heard.

Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, used his contribution in the chamber last week to formally request the Minister visit the town “to explain to the community in detail what is going on in relation to employment numbers at Australian Sustainable Hardwoods”.

“The Minister said as recently as last sitting week that there will be no jobs lost in the transition period of mill ownership, yet last week we had a letter from mill management stating one shift is going from the green mill,” Mr Bull told Parliament last Tuesday night.

Mr Bull also addressed the Minister’s recent comments in print media that said his previous commentary on the matter was “speculation” and “unhelpful”.

“Minister, your so-called speculation is in fact a letter from the mill management to the mill employees, and it refers to the fact that as of August 16 the green mill will have only one shift, down from two.

“I am told by employees that this is 20 jobs. I ask the Minister: does she still think this is speculation?

“I am aware the staff in question have fortunately either found other employment (some in different positions with ASH), or are taking some time off before accepting voluntary redundancies, but the reality is the shift is not coming back.

“That is 20 fewer jobs ongoing and 20 fewer pay packets going into the town, which will impact on local business, community groups and even things like school enrolments.

“So with the company confirming this in the letter I have, which I will make available to the House, I am not sure how the Minister can label it as speculation and unhelpful. These comments are in direct opposition to those of mill management.

“I urge the Minister to please come to Heyfield, meet with these workers, their families and businesses and explain to them why mill management says there is a shift gone as of last Wednesday while she says job losses are speculation and why she continues to say there will be no jobs lost in the transition period when already 20 positions have been lost.”

The Minister has 30 days to respond to Mr Bull’s request.

Caption: Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, has asked the Agriculture Minister to visit Heyfield and explain to the community about employment at Australian Sustainable Hardwoods.

Monday, August 28, 2017