Member for Morwell Russell Northe has today used Question Time in State Parliament to raise local concerns following the decision by the State Government to cease the harvesting of native timber by 2030.
Since the State Government’s announcement earlier in the month to axe what has been a sustainable native timber industry, there has been much criticism, angst and anger from many different angles and perspectives.
“It just defies belief that any Government can make such a significant announcement without seemingly knowing the impact it will have upon thousands of regional Victorian small businesses, workers, families and communities that rely upon the future of a sustainable timber industry”, Mr Northe said from Parliament House this afternoon.
His question coincided with a rally on the steps of Parliament this morning as Victorian forestry industry workers and their families, demonstrated their support of a future Victorian sustainable timber industry.
“I put a question to the Premier today, on what analysis has been completed to see what local job losses are likely to occur as a consequence of the State Government taking this position”, Mr Northe continued, “and unfortunately, I’m still not satisfied that the Government fully recognise or even understand what this will in reality mean for regional communities like ours”.
“Whilst I commend any support the State Government might provide to Australian Paper, one has to wonder how and where the necessary supply of softwood timber will come from”, Mr Northe continued.
“It is just over two years since Carter Holt Harvey closed its Morwell sawmill operations with 160 direct jobs lost. And why did the company close its doors – well in their own words they were unable to access softwood timber at the volume or quality they needed!”
“So whilst there have been some assurances that no jobs will be lost at Australian Paper one has to question just where the resource will actually be derived from”, Mr Northe said.
Unfortunately the Premiers answers to my questions still leave a great deal of uncertainty for those who work directly and indirectly in the timber and forestry sectors and the many communities who have helped sustain this same sector for decades.