The peak industry bodies representing the scores of businesses that employ thousands of men and women in the front line to be impacted by Premier Andrews’ poor policy announcement to shut down Victoria’s native timber industry are seriously questioning the government’s commitment to engage with industry.
A joint letter signed by the Chief Executives of the Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA), Australian Forest Contractors Association (AFCA), and the Victorian Association of Forest Industries Inc. (VAFI) on 12 November seeking a meeting with the Premier remains unacknowledged. A month later, and with Christmas literally just days away, the organisations fear the government’s rhetoric on jobs is just hollow words.
Chief Executive of AFPA, Ross Hampton, said “the announcement of the closure of a sustainable industry, certified to world’s best practice, blindsided those who work in our Victorian businesses. Victoria’s native forest industry uses 4 trees out of every 10,000 and every tree used is regenerated and regrown by law. There is no ‘old growth’ harvesting. Without Victorian native timber, Melburnians will have to get their hardwood floors and stair treads and other appearance grade timbers from other places- and often that will be from places without the same high level of sustainable forest management.”
Chief Executive of AFCA, Stacey Gardiner, said “there is strong opposition to this announcement and ongoing uncertainty is placing enormous stress on forestry contractors and their employees. We have growing concerns around the serious mental health implications and we need genuine support.”
Chief Executive of VAFI, Tim Johnston, said “the continued failure of the Andrews Government to engage with industry is a clear signal of their disregard for regional businesses and the communities they support, as well as the thousands of downstream processing jobs.”