Mr NORTHE (Morwell) — News that the Carter Holt Harvey (CHH) sawmill in Morwell will close very soon is a terrible blow for the 160 workers, their families and service providers. This is the reality: some workers have come back from the depths of despair to find a job at this organisation, yet this is now being taken away. Multiple members of the same family who work at Carter Holt Harvey will now be without an income. How can you not feel for these people? Their jobs are absolutely so critical for them.
There are a number of questions being asked by workers that deserve answering. Where the hell are these employees going to find work locally when unemployment has already spiralled out of control in the Latrobe city? Will a worker transfer scheme be established for CHH workers as it was for Hazelwood workers? Were options to access alternate timber resources from other areas explored? Why is the state government prepared to buy the Australian Sustainable Hardwoods Heyfield mill but not the CHH mill in Morwell? Are there any other prospective buyers of the mill? Has consideration been given to operating the mill at a reduced capacity so at least some jobs can be saved?
It is hardly believable what is happening at the present time in the Latrobe Valley. You would think that following the debacle of the Hazelwood power station closing and hundreds of people losing their jobs this government would do all in its power to keep the doors of CHH open, but again all we see is a shrug of the shoulders and a suggestion that impacted workers do some training. Well, that is simply not good enough for the workers and their families in the valley. They need jobs, and they need them now. It is incumbent on this government to keep Carter Holt Harvey in Morwell open.