Government will at heart of mill concerns
Australian Sustainable Hardwoods (ASH) management met with Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Peter Walsh, and local MP, Tim Bull, at the Heyfield mill on Tuesday morning.
Mr Walsh said there was no doubt a change in government policy on timber supply has led to this situation of uncertainty around the mill’s future.
“There were contracts on the table at the 2014 election for the quantity of timber that ASH is seeking to remain in business and the only reason it is not there now is a change in policy and that needs to change back. The resource is there,” Mr Walsh said.
Mr Bull said: “VicForests itself has stated the reason the timber supply offer has reduced is the additional areas that have been placed into reserve primarily for leadbeater possum habitat.”
“This means we’ve had a net loss of resource and when this occurs, something has to give,” Mr Bull said.
“The Government can solve this; all it needs is the will to do so.
“The company has discussed longer-term supply options and while that needs to take place, a short-term solution for timber supply needs to be reached and that is what the Government must commit to.”
Also in attendance were Danny O’Brien, Member for Gippsland South, and Melina Bath, Upper House Member for Eastern Region, who have also been strong advocates for the continuation of the mill’s operations.
Caption: Nationals MPs Danny O’Brien (Gippsland South), Melina Bath (Eastern Region), Peter Walsh (Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Minister for Agriculture) and Tim Bull (Gippsland East) discuss the Heyfield mill’s future with Australian Sustainable Hardwoods chief executive officer, Vince Hurley, on Tuesday.
Tuesday, January 31, 2017
White, Molineux congratulated by MP
Cricketers Cameron White and Sophie Molineux, from Bairnsdale, have been congratulated by Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, following their success at the Allan Border Medal awards night this week.
White, who grew up playing cricket with Wy Yung, received the Domestic Player of the Year award after another stunning season with the Victorian Bushrangers, while West Bairnsdale’s Molineux was the inaugural winner of the Betty Wilson Young Cricketer of the Year award.
“This recognition for both Cameron and Sophie is excellent news and is great reward for years of hard work,” Mr Bull said.
“Cameron has represented Australia in both one-day international and Test cricket, while also captaining the Bushrangers in the past.
“Many people thought he was unlucky to be left out of Australia’s one-day squad for the recent series against Pakistan, after scoring a huge amount of runs in the domestic competition.
Both White and Molineux represented Melbourne Renegades in their respective men’s and women’s Big Bash League seasons, which both came to an end last week.
“In her second season of Women’s Big Bash League cricket and at only 19 years of age, Sophie has done a tremendous job to get where she is and receiving the Betty Wilson Young Cricketer of the Year award shows just how well she is travelling,” Mr Bull said.
“Talking to Sophie last week, it is clear she has her sights set on even higher achievements and I’ve no doubt she will get there.
“She had another great season with the Renegades against some of Australia’s best female cricketers, while Cameron also scored heavily at the top of the order for the men.
“It’s fantastic to see local people succeed in their chosen careers and at the highest level. Speaking on behalf of the East Gippsland community, we are all very proud of you both,” he said.
Wednesday, January 25, 2017
Premier's intervention sought to avoid Heyfield job losses, petition launched
State Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, has written to Premier Daniel Andrews seeking his direct involvement in securing the future operations of Australian Sustainable Hardwoods in Heyfield and its 250-plus employees, while launching a petition in support of the company and its employees.
"Following several in-depth discussions over recent days, it has become very clear that Daniel Andrews’ intervention will resolve this issue," Mr Bull said.
"VicForests has clearly stated on several occasions that one of the major reasons for this is the additional areas that have gone into reserve (predominantly for leadbeater possum) without being replaced.
"You just can't keep taking and expect no ramifications.
"ASH has indicated its intention to transition to plantation timber, but the company and the families involved need support.
Mr Bull said the petition, calling for support for ASH and the timber industry in East Gippsland, will be available in a range of local businesses in Heyfield or by contacting his office.
Caption: Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, has called on Premier Daniel Andrews to support Australian Sustainable Hardwoods and its employees.
Monday, January 23, 2017
Daniel Andrews must secure Heyfield jobs
The news 1600 jobs have been saved at Alcoa after ongoing negotiations with the Federal and State Governments is a great relief for workers and their families in Victoria’s south-west, but now the State Government’s focus must turn to Australian Sustainable Hardwood in Heyfield, according to Gippsland East MP, Tim Bull.
“Unfortunately the Andrews Government’s unwillingness to engage with our forestry industry has left more than 300 jobs in East Gippsland facing the axe.
“To date, the Minister has not met with the mill owners despite two years of requests.
“Having met with the mill owners, management and workers in the past 48 hours, it is clear there is considerable angst they have not been able to meet directly with the Minister.
“By refusing to guarantee timber supply for mills in our region, 250 Heyfield workers will lose their job if the mill closes in September, and the futures of Auswest Timbers’ 65 workers also hang in the balance.
“I have also been advised that there are around 7000 jobs in Melbourne through the many companies ASH supplies.
“The Andrews Government proudly boasts they worked ‘around the clock’ to secure jobs at Alcoa and now they must do the same for our workers here in East Gippsland’s forestry industry.
“VicForests has clearly stated that one of the major reasons for the reduction in resource availability has been the creation of increased reserves in the past two years, primarily for leadbeater possum habitat. If more areas are to be placed into reserve, the Government must oversee that alternate areas are provided for industry. If you just keep taking without balancing, something has to give and in this case it is all these jobs.
“Having been in meetings late this week with the mill owners, operators, employees, and VicForests, it is clear that this issue can be resolved with government assistance and that’s what needs to occur.
“The Government’s desperate effort to hold onto inner-city green preferences is sacrificing jobs here in our local forest industry and it must stop. This Government must stop hiding behind its farcical Forest Industry Taskforce and immediately stand up for the jobs of East Gippsland workers,” Mr Bull said.
Friday, January 20, 2017
Heyfield Mill media statement - Tim Bull MP
Australian Sustainable Hardwood’s announcement today that it is considering the closure of its Heyfield Mill, the largest hardwood timber mill in Australia, is deeply concerning.
A closure would result in the loss of 250 full-time jobs, with contractors and many more indirect jobs also impacted. It would be devastating not only for the town, but for the wider Gippsland region.
Daniel Andrews’ failure to support the timber industry has left business confidence plummeting and it is timber workers who will pay the price for his inaction.
It is very disappointing the company has unsuccessfully sought meetings with Minister Pulford for the past two years to discuss these matters.
The Premier must now urgently take action to secure these jobs and East Gippsland’s timber industry.
On the back of the Hazelwood announcement in early November, securing these jobs should have been a priority for the Andrews Government rather than ignoring meeting requests and letting it get to this crisis stage.
Daniel Andrews is desperate to hang on to green city preferences and it looks like he’s putting his own job ahead of the jobs of East Gippsland’s timber workers.
Police top dog visits Lakes Entrance
Victoria’s most senior police officer, Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton, was in Lakes Entrance on Monday to discuss police resourcing in the town over holiday periods with Gippsland East MP, Tim Bull.
Mr Bull, who has raised the matter in Parliament on several occasions in a quest to have more police allocated in peak tourist times as used to occur, said it was a very productive meeting with the Chief Commissioner, who has given an undertaking to have a good look at the situation.
Superintendent Brad Dixon and Officer in Charge of Lakes Entrance Police Station, Senior Sergeant Phil Bogle, were also in attendance.
“I am very appreciative of Graham taking the time to come to Lakes Entrance and sit down and discuss the matters of concern. The focus of the chat was obviously around having more police allocated in peak holiday periods to cater for the increased crowds and the fact that the workload of local police increases as a result.
“In the meeting I was able to explain the frustration (as has been relayed through my office) felt by some locals and tourists when resources are stretched.
“The discussion was basically around the fact that although our local police do a great job and are heavily involved in the community, they just need more help at certain times of the year.
“I also wanted to point out that if additional staff can be allocated, they needed to come from outside the region, as transferring staff from Bairnsdale was not ideal given they have increased tourist numbers to deal with in locations like Paynesville and Eagle Point.
“From the round-table, I believe the Chief Commissioner has a clearer picture of the situation in Lakes Entrance with the massive influx of people and associated demands. It is terrific that he was able to come to town and I look forward to again raising this in Parliament with the Minister in the hope that we will have additional resources for the Easter period, which is only a matter of 10 weeks away,” Mr Bull said.
Caption: Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police, Graham Ashton (centre), was in Lakes Entrance this week for a discussion on police resourcing over holiday periods with local MP, Tim Bull, and Officer in Charge of Lakes Entrance Police Station, Senior Sergeant Phil Bogle.
Tuesday, January 17, 2017