The Andrews Government has confirmed timber communities risk losing more jobs, refusing to confirm Labor will not further reduce the amount of timber available to industry.
Recently, the Andrews Government finally announced this year’s timber allocation order, which reduced the area available for harvesting by industry by 5000 hectares.
Asked in State Parliament about the Government’s plans for future allocation orders, Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes offered a stumbling response that did not rule out further reductions.
She also falsely claimed Labor’s decision to finally put out the allocation order and Timber Release Plans – 10 months overdue – had “certainly been welcomed by industry”.
Both the Victorian Association of Forest Industries (VAFI) and timber contractors have raised concerns that uncertainty created by the Andrews Labor Government’s delays will continue to threaten jobs and business confidence.
Ms Symes’ confused response follows a trainwreck interview with ABC Gippsland where she failed to answer basic questions on Labor’s plantation timber policy.
Comment attributable to Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh
Tens of thousands of Victorians rely on the timber industry to make a living, but Labor’s delays have left their jobs and livelihood at risk.
Timber communities in the Minister’s own electorate of Northern Victoria and those in Gippsland will be deeply concerned that she clearly doesn’t understand the Government’s timber policy.
The Andrews Government cost jobs by starving the industry of supply for 10 months and the Minister’s comments leave Victoria’s more than $7 billion industry with more uncertainty about its future under Labor.
Comment attributable to Member for Eastern Victoria Edward O’Donohue
People who work in the timber industry are at the heart of many communities in Gippsland, playing for the local football club, spending money in town and sending their kids to our fantastic local schools.
The hundreds of people in our region who rely on the timber industry to put food on the table and pay the bills deserve to know their jobs are secure.
But they are in constant limbo because the Andrews Government refuses to support them.
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