Andrews Government must urgently intervene to save timber towns and jobs

The Victorian Government must urgently intervene to save the Victoria’s native timber industry and
the thousands of jobs it supports, industry peak bodies urged today.

Yesterday’s court decision to extend an injunction preventing timber harvesting in 13 coupes is the
latest setback for the industry, which was already reeling from the bushfires, the Andrews
Government’s plan to phase out the industry from 2024 to 2030, and bureaucratic inaction that’s
preventing the harvesting of burnt coupes.

While we’re still assessing the assessing the ramifications of the court decision, it is clear that the
ongoing uncertainty and the lack of security is devastating for workers and businesses across the
native timber industry.

Victorian Association of Forest Industries (VAFI) CEO Tim Johnston said that without immediate
action from the Victorian Government to get harvest and haulage contractors working again and
getting timber flowing into mills, the industry will grind to a halt and even more workers would be
stood down.

“The government’s so-called Victorian Forestry Plan appears to be in disarray. It is critical that the
government now sit down with industry – workers, contractors and processors – to deliver a
workable and sustainable future,” Mr Johnston said.

Australian Forest Contractors Association General Manager Stacey Gardiner said harvest and haulage
contractors in East Gippsland – who were on the frontline fighting bushfires and making roads safe
again by the removal of burnt and dangerous trees – are now at breaking point after months of no or
little work.

“Many contractors have been out of work or operating well below capacity since the fires, which is
untenable. Without immediate financial support or an immediate resumption of full operations for
forest contractors and their crews, many of these businesses will fold, and the rest of the industry
will follow.”

AFPA CEO Ross Hampton said the premature closure of the industry would be on Premier Andrews’
head if he failed to act now. “This is a sustainable industry employing thousands of people in regional
Victoria – it is too big to fail. If the Premier is serious about supporting timber workers and regional
communities, then he must do everything he can to get the industry working again.”


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