Member for Morwell Russell Northe has slammed the State Government for its decision to shut down the native timber industry within a decade which is likely to have a massive impact upon local employment and our local economy.
“This news today will leave hundreds of workers and their families who are employed directly and indirectly in the industry facing uncertainty and insecurity. The State Government needs to tell businesses, workers and our community how this shutdown will impact them, and what measures and supports are being put in place” said Mr Northe.
“We are pleased that Australian Paper have stated that their future will be in the Valley but we need an assurance from Government that there will be no job losses.” Mr Northe said.
Beyond Australian Paper there are hundreds and hundreds of people who are employed in the timber industry and who will be feeling very nervous at the moment. Harvesters, transport companies, retailers, builders, cabinet makers and furniture makers amongst others will be impacted in one way or another along with consumers.
The State Government’s own agency in VicForests states how important the native timber industry is in terms of the manufacturing of timber related products. It’s says and I quote:
“This timber (native timber) is used in hardwood products such as high quality furniture, flooring and other building materials as well as in quality writing and office paper VicForests plays an important role in meeting the community demand for wood products and is now Australia’s largest supplier of native hardwood timbers.
However, the demand for hardwood timber products in Victoria is greater than we can supply domestically. Australia currently imports $4 billion of wood products from overseas, much of which comes from the tropical forests of developing nations.
Unfortunately, many of the countries supplying this wood do not have the same strict regulations relating to timber harvesting as we have in Australia”.
So the Government’s own authority is saying that we now will have to import more timber from other jurisdictions who don’t have the same stringent forestry and environmental standards as we do here in Victoria, that’s a great outcome for the environment and sustainability – not!!
So the likely outcome of this decision is the loss of hundreds if not thousands of jobs, higher prices for timber related products and a worse environment and sustainability outcome which just defies belief.
“This is bad policy that will hurt so many people in the Latrobe Valley and wider Gippsland region” said Mr Northe.